App Aims to Streamline Caregiving for Sick Friends
Leave it to a group of busy professional women to rally around a sick friend by offering meals, dog walking, rides to chemo, and any other chore they could outsource while she recovered from breast cancer treatment. The friends coordinated their efforts via text, but Krista O’Malley thought there had to be a better way.
“We’re good at asking for help in celebratory moments,” says O’Malley, principal and CEO of St. Paul-based creative agency cmnd+m. “Why is it so hard when we’re sick and in need?”
A CaringBridge page felt too extreme and more geared toward health reports than practical support. “This wasn’t a life-or-death situation,” O’Malley says. But a spreadsheet seemed too impersonal, and text chains can get cumbersome. She envisioned a “digital ecosystem” for someone’s inner circle—the group of friends O’Malley dubs her “power pack.”
She built a digital caregiving platform called My PowerPak. The progressive web app, which works on Android and iOS devices, includes a journal, messaging, and a shared calendar where users can inform, solicit, and coordinate volunteers to help with anything from dropping off meals to mowing the lawn. It makes it easy, O’Malley says, for the person in need to ask for help, and for friends to know that needs are being met.
My PowerPak is free to use, but O’Malley set it up as a public benefit corporation rather than a nonprofit. To support the business, she created a marketplace of gift items—essential oils, blankets, works of art. Half of the vendors are Minnesota companies; 83 percent are women or BIPOC women-owned businesses, O’Malley says. Gifts can be purchased and sent through MyPowerPak—you don’t even need to know the recipient’s address.
Children’s Minnesota was the first health care a to partner with O’Malley and help make My PowerPak available to families of patients. Other nonprofit partners include Crescent Cove Respite & Hospice Home for Kids, CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, Aging Life Care Association, and Special Needs Navigator.
“We see huge potential,” O’Malley says. “So you can use the digital platform and get back to what matters.” Learn more at mypowerpak.com.