Kristen describes her role as a carer in her Grandma Dossy’s life as precious. ‘I enjoy spending time with her. We go out for lunch or to a cafe and order her favourite coffee. She always says, “I like my coffee hot and strong, just like I like my men”. It still makes me laugh.
Kristen has always had a special bond with her Grandma Dossy.
‘She would take me to her caravan in Warburton. We’d fish in the river,’ Kristen says.
These days, Dossy is 96 and lives in an aged care home. Kristen’s mother Annie is Dossy’s main carer for all paperwork and ensuring she is safe and happy at the care home, while Kristen is ‘the one who takes her on adventures out of her home’.
‘When I pick up my grandma, I tell her I’m breaking her out,’ Kristen says. ‘She gets this smirk on her face and says: “Oh dear, I must change my shoes.” We laugh so hard, and then she realises the police won’t care what shoes she’s wearing!’
Kristen describes her role as a carer in Grandma Dossy’s life as precious. ‘I enjoy spending time with her. We go out for lunch or to a cafe and order her favourite coffee. She always says, “I like my coffee hot and strong, just like I like my men”. It still makes me laugh and also makes the waiter laugh. I think the most important part of being a carer is to make them feel safe and human.’
Dossy has dementia, so Kristen made a video of her old photos. ‘We watch it every time I see her. She never gets bored of it,’ Kristen says. ‘In fact, it makes her remember more stories to tell me.’
When Kristen was living in San Francisco, she tried to show Dossy the Golden Gate Bridge by video call. However, technical issues meant it took two hours on a landline to help Dossy set up. Mainstream apps such as Whatsapp or Zoom didn’t solve the problem either because Dossy faced log-in hurdles or struggled to control a screen with multiple choices and buttons. Dossy never wanted to simply call Kristen either, because she didn’t want to bother Kristen in case she was busy.
Determined to find a way to connect more easily, Kristen built an easy-to-use video app that removed frustrating tech barriers and bridges the tech gap between seniors and their loved ones.
The app is easy to install and set up and takes just one tap to video connect. Connected users can share calendars or set their availability. The design also meets international accessibility standards and can be used by low vision, low mobility and tech-challenged users.
‘I am also building a safe and secure community of volunteers who are ready and waiting to chat when family or carers are busy,’ Kristen says. Callers are matched first by language and then by interests. The ‘Family Connect’ release is now available (free) in the Apple iOS store. Android and the ‘Community Connect’ app will go live later in 2022.
When Kristen told her grandmother the name she’d given the app ‘Dossy’, she cried at Dossy’s response: ‘Dear, everyone deserves to be connected.’
‘She gave me the proudest look that I’ll never forget.’