The innovative idea of CRDL is translating human touch into sounds to encourage people to touch each other in an approachable way and to make contact in a playful manner which promote good health for people with dementia.
Ya Yun Yang
TIAS School for Business and Society
The innovative idea is from two architects Dennis Schuivens and Jack Chen. They aim to create an interface that can decrease the difficulties in communication and interaction for dementia patients.
Through discussions with healthcare professionals, they discovered that people with dementia are sensitive to dynamic stimuli. For their product CRDL they specifically choose touch and sound as stimulus. Jack stated that “since the auditory memory of people with dementia remains intact for a long time, sounds and music are an effective way to recall memories. In addition, a touch is close, intimate and personal; it literally bridges the physical distance to make contact.” CRDL is now an interactive healthcare instrument which helps to break the isolation of people when a normal conversation is no longer possible.
Dennis stated “The interaction begins when two users each place one hand on the CRDL and form a circuit by touching each other. The CRDL recognizes the way people touch each other such as holding, rubbing, tapping or scratching, and it affects the sound that is generated.” CRDL has 25 pre-programmed sounds, e.g. the natural voices or piano sounds which elderly are familiar with. By using the human body as part of the control, CRDL can be used 1-on-1 or in a group by adding more participants to the circuit (as links in a chain). The CRDL evokes memories or emotions with primal sounds that lead to mutual connection and contact.
The successful leaders observe the problem in their daily life and try to change it. One of the interviewees Jack had experience being a volunteer for dementia patients. He did not know how to approach patients who lost part of their communication ability, however, the patients still appreciated Jack coming to help. This made him believe that care and accompany are important for these patients. He wondered how to elevate the quality of care and make it two-way communication, in which both patient and caregiver can feel relaxed and engaged. He came out with the product CRDL and kept modifying the product according to the feedback from users. Finally, he can succeed.
Jack and Dennis saw problems which are seldom being addressed, i.e. the difficulties and lack of fulfillment for caregivers, family members, or volunteers to approach dementia patients. Previously, the focus mainly stayed on the disease and disabilities. For caregivers, they have time pressure to satisfy the basic needs of residents with limited workforce and budget. They must make sure all residents are bathed, dressed, and fed at the same time dealing with dementia-related behaviors.
As architects, Jack and Dennis understand the layout of the nursing home is very important for people with dementia. The more the brain is affected, the more behavior depends on the environment. CRDL creates a positive and helpful environment for patients to feel relaxed and happy, which decreases the problematic behaviors. Therefore, caregivers can have less burden on work and provide more personal and humane care.
The company CRDL is a profitable private company with 10 employees promoting the innovation in elderly facilities and home care settings in the Netherlands. The CRDL costs 3,950 euros and is already sold to around 350 nursing facilities. CRDL is recognized by many healthcare professionals. They won numerous awards, such as National Healthcare Innovation Award 2018, HeldCare 2017, and Purpose Award 2017. The business will expand this year from nursing facilities to home care setting. The business model in the home care market will change from selling CRDL itself to selling a service with caregivers to facilitate the activity. If the pilot study is successfully adopted, there is a home care population of 180 thousand persons that can benefit from this service. The company will also work with an insurance company to provide the service with a subsidy.
CRDL is so successful because the two founders observed the real problem, where care is physically sufficient but lacks human value and personal attention. Most of the time, care focuses on disease and disability. However, holistic care takes emotional well-being and the sociological environment into account. CRDL reverses the thinking to lower the barrier for caregivers and to increase the channel for interaction between caregiver and patient. A group activity of interaction is also a good way to let everyone feel engaged and ensure patients can still contribute to the group regardless of any disabilities.
The founders take care in every step of production and ensure durability, for example the CRDL is made from a single piece of wood. They also seek feedback from users and keep modifying CRDL and the business model. All this attention to details makes CRDL a promising business. There are currently 260,000 dementia patients and the number will keep growing due to the aging population in the Netherlands. Government is investing in innovation for more effective and efficient care and support. Scientific research into the effect of the CRDL still needs to be undertaken. This year, CRDL plans to start a pilot study to expand the usage area into every household. Through cooperation with companies which provide home care services, CRDL would provide service package to users. Users at home do not have to buy CRDL and can enjoy the service from home caregivers. Thus more people can enjoy CRDL without the financial constraint of having to purchase it. Furthermore, after the theoretical framework is proven and sufficient positive outcomes from patients are available, CRDL can apply as 'reimbursed care' and insurance companies could consider including this service into their insurance package.
The potential market is not just in the Netherlands but anywhere where people require a higher quality of care. CRDL has begun some cases in Belgium and is also preparing to enter the German market. In the future, more dementia patients will be able to experience CRDL.
After the launch of CRDL, the company received positive feedback from caregivers, family members, and healthcare professionals. The new communication approach aims to lower the barrier between people, especially patients who have difficulty with communication and social interaction. Users even found it helpful for people with autism, intellectual disability, and mute or blind persons. They believe the purpose of CRDL is not a cure for the disease, but an interface encouraging people and improving the experience of interaction with patients.
CRDL aligns with the Dutch policy to create a dementia-friendly society. This progressive disease, without an established way to cure, does not only affect patients with dementia but also the family members, care providers, and eventually society as a whole. CRDL provides an alternative way to contact people with dementia. Volunteers from support systems are motivated because they can more easily approach patients. CRDL also joined the ‘Delta Plan Dementia’ network organization, in which members have great ambition, knowledge, and inspiration. This network gathers forces from business, science, patient organizations, health care providers, health insurers, education and service providers. The organization believes in working together to fight against the effects of dementia in the coming years.
For the environmental benefit, the solid noble wood material of cradle can be recycled, and it comes from sustainably managed forests. All wood that is extracted for production is replanted in this forest. The production is all within an industrial park without extra transportation. The wooden handmade package box can also be reused and recycled.
Jack Chen, Co Founder/ Designer
Dennis Schuivens, Co Founder/ Designer
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Business Website: https://crdlt.com/
Year Founded: 2015
Number of Employees: 2 to 10
CRDL (pronounced 'cradle') has a strong impact on aging society to improve the quality of care. Social isolation and loneliness are relevant issues for the elderly, especially those suffering from dementia. The progressive disease causes people to gradually lose memory and the ability to communicate. The product, CRDL, is an interactive healthcare instrument which can translate intimate touch between people into familiar sounds. This creates a new form of human interaction by using the human body as part of the musical instrument. The music and sounds are an effective way to recall memory for dementia patients. CRDL is also widely used on people who have difficulty with communication and social interaction such as autism, intellectual disability, mute or blind. CRDL helps to break the isolation of people when a normal conversation is no longer possible.