United Church Homes' Terri Spitznagel Reveals New Service for Caregivers as Part of Life Tomorrow Discussion Series

by Adam Felts

The MIT AgeLab’s monthly Life Tomorrow webinar discussion series featured guest presenter Terry Spitznagel, Senior Vice President and Chief Growth Officer for United Church Homes, who presented a new initiative her organization is developing to aid family caregivers. United Church Homes, a 100-year-old religious non-profit senior housing and services organization, is a partner of the AgeLab’s CareHive consortium.

Ms. Spitznagel introduced a service in development by United Church Homes called NaviGuide, which aims to provide a personal navigator to caregivers for service coordination, information-seeking, and problem-solving. She emphasized three components of the NaviGuide service:

Twenty-four-seven reachability: Caregivers often seek information and solutions in crisis moments, when waiting for a business to open at 9am is not an option. To function as a genuine problem-solving service, NaviGuide is reachable twenty-hour hours a day.

A one-source solution: With live representatives who are trained to coordinate across disparate service providers, NaviGuide is intended to address as wide a range of caregiver needs as possible, so that users aren’t forced to consult multiple sources to solve a problem.

Subscription model: NaviGuide is purchased as a membership service. By relating to caregivers as members as well as customers, the service aims to foster ongoing engagement with its users and develop relationships over time.

The conceptualization of NaviGuide was partly aided by the AgeLab’s CareHive research, Ms. Spitznagel said. The AgeLab’s research on caregiving information-seeking suggests that caregivers often are driven to search for information in order to solve an immediate problem, and that the information-seeking process is in many cases an iterative one.

The AgeLab’s research also emphasizes that women—most specifically “the eldest adult daughter”—are often the primary caregivers and decision-makers in a household, a fact which played a role in developing NaviGuide’s operations and marketing.

A pilot version of Naviguide is scheduled to launch in February 2022.

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About the Author

Photo of Adam Felts
Adam Felts

Adam Felts is a researcher and writer at the MIT AgeLab. Currently he is involved in research on the experiences of family caregivers and the future of financial advice. He also manages the AgeLab blog and newsletter. He received his Master's in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Boston University in 2014 and his Master's of Theological Studies from Boston University in 2019.

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