It has become a staple of American society to place elderly individuals in nursing homes when they lose the ability to effectively care for themselves. While the intentions of their families are normally good, there are often consequences to life in nursing homes that are either overlooked, or simply not realized due to a lack of information. Among these, is the unfortunate result that many elderly people, though being well taken care of by staff and surrounded by others with similar interests, often lose the drive they had earlier in life. Granted this decrease in motivation and sense of purpose, it is not surprising that negative psychological ramifications follow. A study published by the Department of Health and Human services assessed 76,735 residents in 921 Ohio nursing homes to conclude that "Depression is the most burdensome and prevalent mental illness among nursing home residents" (Levin, et al.) Therefore, we decided to address this problem by creating a website on which nursing home residents can mentor and teach younger individuals skills experiences that gave them a sense of purpose earlier in life. In turn, younger people would gain the opportunity to connect with and be inspired by the stories and experiences of the eldery.
What it does
GenConnect aims to provide nursing homes with tools that allow their residents to meet and teach the youth. The site functions as a place where individual nursing homes may register to publish events, classes, and social sessions that are run by their own residents, intended to be attended by the youth in their communities. Registered homes in a user's particular area appear as easy to access tabs at the top of the screen. Clicking on a tab provides accessible key information about a particular home, such as the contact info and address, as well as the published events, social sessions, and classes that the residents have created. The website contains functionality for obtaining information about these sessions and registering for them; this is completed through an integrated applet.
How we built it
We used the website creation platform Wix to layout our pages and import all of the necessary functionality. We also used certain Google Cloud features, such as an embedded google map that displays the location of a particular nursing home.
Challenges we ran into
Going into our first MedHacks challenge, neither of us had much experience with web development, and we thus encountered some challenges when it came to programming. Because of this, we elected to use the Wix platform for its ease of use and its ability to create aesthetically pleasing and functional websites in a short span of time. One of the major aspects of our site consists of information for a registered nursing home. Early on, we had decided to embed a map showing the home's location by writing an HTML script and utilizing the Google Cloud map platform. Although we were able to modify template code to suit our needs, we encountered some issues with activating the API key which hindered our ability to make this feature work. Because of this, we settled on the integrated map features available directly in the Wix system.
Furthermore, much time was devoted to ideation at the beginning of our project, to ensure that the product would attempt to solve an issue pertinent to society. We selected the issue of high rates of depression among nursing home residents because of its relevance to our largely online world today and the ability to make significant progress on a solution in the given time frame.
Accomplishments that we are proud of
One of the things we are most proud of is the fact that having limited programming experience, and never having participated in a hackathon before, we were able to develop an idea and bring it into some level of fruition.
What we learned
One of the biggest challenges that we faced as new MedHacks participants was not knowing where exactly to start. The topics presented at the pitch sessions were quite broad, and being freshman undergraduates, our base of knowledge for medical theory was fairly limited. Therefore, we learned the most through interacting with mentors who were able to provide constructive feedback on our ideas and encourage our growth. Throughout this project, we learned quite a bit about the Wix platform as well as some of the services offered by Google Cloud. In the future, we would wish to learn more about the web development process, namely through more customizable platforms that incorporate greater levels of programming.
What's next for GenConnect
We envision this site to be able to connect users to nursing homes in their area, and therefore have greater functionality with regards to maps features. For example, a user should be able to enter their zip code and have returned to them a map showing the registered nursing homes in their area. This would of course require that nursing homes are more easily able to join; therefore, information about this site should be spread around with greater ease. By increasing the number of registered nursing homes, the events available through the site will become more enriching and diverse.