7 Aug 2020
A mobile app to support teens and young adults with arthritis self-isolating in the wake of COVID-19 has been launched by the charity Versus Arthritis. The development of this app was supported by the Techies in Residence programme which focuses on creating powerful change within communities through digital technology. Techies in Residence programme is now open for applications, apply here.
Versus Arthritis joined the Techies in Residence programme in 2017, their challenge was how to help and support young people to cope better with the pain and struggles of living with arthritis.
Versus Arthritis was partnered with a tech company and through a series of workshops and a residential, the project was refined and developed into a prototype app that allows young people to track their condition and produce reports about symptoms/side effects of their medication, sleep, activity, school, mood and more.
In its current form, the app provides basic hints and tips that can empower the young person/user to take control of their arthritis and improve their quality of life. The interface has been co-designed with young people using the approach of messaging a friend to gather information rather than data input.
16-year-old Jasmine Leslie has had juvenile idiopathic arthritis since lockdown, she has been isolating at home with her family. Speaking on the launch of Arthritis Tracker, she said:
“I’ve been testing the app during its trial phase and have found it really helpful. I had been trying to find something like it for a while, to understand how different things might impact my condition.
“Stress makes everything worse for me, and the current lockdown has been hard. I had to stop going to school before my friends and worried that I was missing out. I’m also finding it harder to sleep at the moment. The app’s advice on stress and sleep has really helped me through this. The tracking also helps remind me that even if I’m feeling rubbish one day, I am having good days too. This keeps me more positive.”
Sophie Mullen, Digital Engagement Officer at Versus Arthritis who led on the app’s creation and development alongside young people, said:
“Arthritis is too often dismissed as an old person’s disease, but it doesn’t discriminate by age – two thirds of people with arthritis are under 65. At Versus Arthritis we want to ensure nobody with arthritis is left alone. Our app provides much needed additional support which young people can access anywhere, including from the comfort and safety of their home.
“Technology is helping us bridge the gap to those who were already isolated, and who face more restrictions to their life because of COVID-19. Most will never have met other young people their age with the condition, who understand what they’re going through. This app will help us change that.”
Paul Braithwaite, Head of innovation and voice said “We want to use technology as a means to overcome social challenges and as a result of Covid19 communities are faced with more challenges than ever before. Techies in Residence is about providing support to organisations who know technology can help them have a greater impact but are unsure how to go about this. We link them up with a suitable techie company and provide support to help their idea become a reality developing digital products and services that have the potential for deep social impact”.
Arthritis Tracker is available on the Versus Arthritis website and to download for iPhone on the Apple App Store and for Android on Google Play.