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A Digital Mobile Community App for Caregivers in Singapore: Predevelopment and Usability Study

Background: With increasing life expectancy and aging populations, the global prevalence of chronic diseases and the long-term care required for people with comorbidities is rising. This has led to an ever-growing need for caregiving. Previous literature has shown that caregivers face problems of isolation and loneliness. However, many health organizations mainly focus their efforts on in-person community groups that require participants to meet physically. This is not always convenient or accessible for caregivers who are often juggling caring for their care recipient with family and work responsibilities. Objective: With medical advancements such as the proliferation of mobile phones and internet technology, caregivers may have opportunities for easier access to resources and support. Technological innovations could help empower the caregiving community to seek assistance for improving their quality of life at their convenience. A community network app called Caregivers’ Circle was conceptualized in response to the needs of the caregivers on a day-to-day caregiving journey. This paper traces the predevelopment inquiry and technical details of this app to provide a clear understanding of its implementation along with a usability study to gauge user opinion of the app within Singapore. Methods: A predevelopment survey was conducted to identify specific needs of caregivers and gaps in the currently available web-based community networks. The survey consisted of questions on demographical data, health-related issues of the care recipient, mental and physical health–related issues of the caregiver, digital media use, information seeking, and support. This pre–app development survey was completed by 103 caregivers. Qualitative enquiries were also conducted with caregivers within Singapore to identify issues related to caregiving, support provided, and what caregivers would want from a caregiving mobile app. Results: From the feedback garnered from the caregivers, the developers were able to identify several caregivers’ needs and gaps within the current support networks. This feedback was integrated into the mobile app called Caregivers’ Circle upon development. The features of this app include a public forum for community discussions, a marketplace to buy and sell items, care groups to hold private discussions with friends or other users of the app, and a friends feature to search and add new caregiving friends. Conclusions: In general, the caregivers liked the Caregivers’ Circle app and were confident that this app could help them have a better quality of life. The Caregivers’ Circle app is unique in its integrated approach. The integration of many features that caregivers need on a daily basis into an easy app can save their time as well as help them navigate their life smoothly.

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JMIR Publications
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JMIR Nursing
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