Today we’d like to introduce you to Cristina Sarria.
Cristina, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Sure, back in May of 2017 my father in law was rushed to the hospital because he was showing signs of what we thought was a stroke. After being evaluated we learned that he had very bad pneumonia. It was recommended that he be sedated and intubated to help remove the water from his lungs. What should have been only a few days sedated turned out to be much longer. During his three month hospital stay, there were many ups and downs. My husband and his two siblings were taking 15 hour shifts at the hospital staying with him. Someone was always there in case he woke up, in case there was a nurse or doctor with new information. It was a very difficult time. Oh, I also need to add that before he became ill he was the caregiver for his wife, my mother in law, who has Alzheimer’s. So, while my husband and his siblings were worried about their father, they had to also worry about their mother as she couldn’t be left alone. Both my in laws are only children so there were no aunts and uncles or cousins to help out my husband and his siblings. There were just three of them, their spouses and friends.
During this time, I saw so many people reach out to my husband, checking in on him and his dad. They’d want to go and visit or ask “how can I help” but a lot of times it stopped there. They needed help but they had so much else going on that even coordinating the how’s and when’s of help became daunting. Sometimes being mentally able to reply to a text message was daunting.
That’s when I said to myself if only there was a way to let everyone know what’s going on, Something that wasn’t a group text, because we all know how those are, and no social media. Then I thought an app, of course, that should be easy! I’ll make an app and it’ll help lots of people! Well, it wasn’t as easy! There was so much to learn about creating an app from idea to the app store. Then, at the same time, learning more about different types of caregivers and their struggles. No caregiver is in the same situation, and their situation can change at any moment. I’ve realized also how little attention is given to caregivers. It’s not until someone is in a situation where they are taking care of someone they love, that they realize how difficult it is. My hope with the app is to give caregivers a safe place to ask for the actual help they need where the people who want to help can see and step up.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’d say it’s been mostly smooth but a huge learning process. I had to learn everything that goes into the app process from beta testing, soft releases, app store optimization, keyword optimization, user experience just to name a few. The worst was after it was done and learning marketing, that is where I’d say my biggest struggle has been.
Please tell us about your organization.
We are a free iOS app for informal caregivers. Just to clarify an informal caregiver is anyone who takes care of a loved one who is elderly, ill or has special needs. We provide a platform where caregivers can request the help they need, from a community of people and those people can, in turn, see what is needed and help where they can. It takes away the awkwardness of a caregiver having to as for help or being offered help that isn’t truly what they need. We also have a message board feature that allows caregivers to send updates to everyone in their community. This minimizes the need to call/text people individually with an update. They don’t have to repeat the same diagnosis or surgery results to everyone. What set us apart is where other services allow you to create webpages for your loved one, you have to do it all via a desktop. If you are in a hospital all day, where will you find a computer? So, with the app, you are able to use it at any time. I’m proud that currently, we can provide this service free to anyone who uses it. There is no cost to download or use the app.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Honestly, I’d say the mere fact that I have an app on the app store. It may not seem like much because there are so many apps out there but coming from having zero ideas what I was doing to having a functioning app that gets downloads every month and then helps people also? That makes me proud!
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