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Caregiver Safety: Situation and Solution (with Ali Al Jabry, CEO of Kwema.co)

The safety of healthcare workers is a large issue and a large concern.  Home Care workers including Direct Service Professionals (DSPs) who provide supportive services for individuals experiencing intellectual and developmental disabilities are especially vulnerable.

This episode of Home Care Heroes and Day Service Stars takes on the issue of caregiver safety with our guest Ali Al Jabry, founder and CEO of kwema.co.  Ali shared more detailed statistics regarding the safety issue:

  • Workplace violence can cost up to $56B per year, and women and healthcare workers are at even higher risk (per this article in Fast Company)
  • "Every hour of every day, two healthcare workers experience verbal or physical abuse."
  • Per this study, 22% of home care workers experienced verbal abuse in their jobs, and that set of caregivers were 11 times as likely to experience physical abuse.

Ali shares great insights on the problem and also talks about the solution offered by his company Kwema (visit www.kwema.co). Recognizing that most healthcare workers and many home care workers wear a name badge, Kwema offers a name badge with a hidden button that contacts 911 in the event of an emergency. 

Ali offered that any home care agency or day services center who mentions that they learned about the Kwema solution via this podcast can get free samples.  You can reach Ali and Kwema at www.kwema.co.

Home Care Heroes and Day Service Stars is produced and sponsored by Ankota - If you provide services that enable older or disabled people to continue living at home , Ankota can provide you the software to successfully run your agency.. Visit us at https://www.ankota.com. 

Check out the full episode to learn more:


Home Care Heroes and Day Service Stars is produced and sponsored by Ankota - If you provide services that enable older or disabled people to continue living at home , Ankota can provide you the software to successfully run your agency. Visit us at https://www.ankota.com. 

Please read below for the transcript to this episode:


Caregiver safety is an important topic with alarming statistics. Today on the podcast we have Ali Al-Jabri, who's an expert in caregiver safety and he also has a great solution. Enjoy.


Welcome to the Home Care Heroes and Day Service Stars podcast. If you provide services to keep older or disabled people living at home, then this podcast is for you. Now, here's your host, Ken Accardi. Well, hi, and welcome to another episode of Home Care Heroes and Day Service Stars. Today, our guests in our topic are very interesting and I think very important. We're going to talk about the safety of caregivers. And we actually have with us a great guest. His name is Ken.


Ali Jabri. He's the CEO of a company that I'm not sure if I'm going to pronounce it correctly, but it's is it Kwema? Yeah, that is correct. All right, perfect. We're here to educate and we'll talk a lot about what Ali has learned about caregiver safety. And then we'll talk about some things that he's done about it as well. And with that, so first of all, welcome to the program. Thank you for having me. It's great. How awesome for those of you watching on YouTube, Ali has a really cool background that shows


his branding and his product. And so it's very cool. So you'll see that, but most of you are probably listening as you're driving to your next home care appointment. But okay, I mean, let's just jump right in. I mean, I guess let's kind of focus on a highlight some of the challenges and actually dangers that home care caregivers, direct support workers are facing. And yeah, take us through that. Yeah, it's quite unbelievable actually. Most people don't even know this. And that's part of why I...


I really feel it's important that we talk about it more because I want to say at least seven out of 10 people I talk to who don't know anything about healthcare would never think that healthcare is one of the, if not the most dangerous industry to work in. Right. And of course that, that extends to home-based care, right. Whether it's hospice or home care. Right. And it's, it's very unfortunate because it's a very, it's an important part of our society. Right.


what keeps us going, right? Like, and it happens to anybody at any age. It's not age specific either. So knowing the risks that they face that are normally patient-centered or patient-related. So family members of patients, patient environments, patients directly generating violence towards caregivers. It's a very unspoken topic, and it's being more spoken about in the last, I wanna say two, three years, where even laws are being passed now, states mandating that


um, violence against health caregivers is actually a felony and you do go to jail. Like you get, you get, you get the full force of the court basically. And that's really been what we've been seeing in the last few years. So for home care workers, specifically you're walking into a house. You don't know what to expect. You don't know what's behind that door. Right. So there's no judging here either because there's houses that may, that maybe in Beverly Hills that are beautiful and $10 million houses. It doesn't mean that you want to get.


there's just no chance of violence. There's still a chance of violence at these very affluent neighborhoods. So there's also this connotation around like, oh, I'm going to sketch your neighborhood, I'm scared. And some of the sketchiest neighborhoods are actually the safest. They take care of you more than other parts. You know what I mean? So that unfortunate burden, caregivers live with every day. They're going into a house, they can't, sometimes they let their guard down because they're like, I wanna help this person. But in reality, there's always a chance that violence could take place.


And unfortunately, it happens more often than not. Yeah, I mean, just being as you've said that, I have a neighbor. I live in a condo in Boston and I have a neighbor who's very healthy in her 70s and her husband passed a while back and had, you know, end of life issues and some memory loss and those kinds of things. And at some point, as she was really became her his caregiver, you know, toward the end of his life at one point,


when he was frustrated about what his body could and couldn't do, he got very disoriented and he kind of attacked her and this sort of thing. And she was able to kind of get through the situation, but I mean, it's a story that she's told me a few times and I know that that's... I mean, this is somebody who loves her and loved her dearly till his last day, but it could happen not because of the person is a violent person, but just because of...


of, you know, their circumstances and especially, you know, and interestingly, I mean, home care and you know, when we talk about home care heroes and, and day service stars, I mean, a lot of the business and probably what a lot of us think of is care for older people. But there's also a lot of disability services. And then another story that comes to mind is more from a media social reference, which is there's a movie that a lot of people watch every year at Christmas called Love Actually.


In that movie, yeah, there's this one kind of young woman who, she has a brother with a disability and he's in institutional care and she makes sort of a life choice to go on one day when he's distressed to kind of move away from something that she had really been hoping to have in her life to put his needs first. And then you see a scene in the facility where...


And she's really trying to calm him down from his distress. And he and he goes to strike her, you know, that kind of thing. So so, yeah, I think that it's great that it's going to be a felony. But I think that in a lot of cases as well, you know, you might just be dealing with somebody who's strong, confused and, you know, unwillingly or not really even understanding what they're doing, that they're they're they're taking out some inner frustration on on the health care worker. And yeah, that's that's that. I mean, I


You said that, I mean, it's great that it's kind of coming into the conversation more and more in the past couple of years. I know that you had this idea and you've been helping caregivers and health workers with safety for a while. But I guess one thing that comes to mind are are there any statistics? Because you said that it is really happening a lot. Could you have any statistics that you could cite in this arena? Yeah. So one of the main stats that is very common, but this applies to health care in general, is that every hour or two nurses are assaulted.


And another stat that is shocking is that for every 40 hours worked, um, a clinician or caregiver, uh, experiences 1.17 aggressive, aggressive incidents, something like that. So that could be verbal abuse as well, but it's still is abuse nonetheless. For home care, actually, there's one that I want to, I want to bring up. I think it was something like in the last 10 years or was, was it 10,000 or a hundred thousand?


There was some crazy number amount of incidents that took place for home caregivers. Let me just pull it up. Because that is a crazy one actually. And I was shocked when I read it. But it's unfortunately just all too common right now. And it shocks me that these numbers are stuff that we have to educate people on because most people don't even know about it.


Yeah, for


Next, but the other thing that you said was that you were, I believe the week or maybe a week or two after that, you were going to go to a conference for New England home care that was going to be in Connecticut. And you even told me that there had been a case in Connecticut that yeah, yeah, what happened there? Unfortunately, there's a nurse that was brutally murdered, actually, a home care nurse, unfortunately. And it was, it was all over the news, actually.


it made national news and international news. Actually, it started even like a domino effect of where you're gonna see more home care agencies and departments doing everything possible to implement safety measures because it's getting a lot more evident. And we've seen this trend already, right? Like healthcare in hospital is kind of a couple steps ahead of the home healthcare, in my opinion, because they are now implementing measures. They have implemented measures for a couple of years now.


and it's almost being mandated. Home healthcare, it's still kind of like an underserved area of healthcare, unfortunately. So that incident did start a process and healthcare systems are now realizing that they are liable and there is a kind of, not only legal and moral responsibility, but it's also gonna be the right decision to make for financially as well.


So that's kind of where things are looking. And the stat that I wanted to share earlier was that from 2015 to 2020, there's a study that shows there's 117,000 aggressive incidents that took place for health care workers in the home of the patients, for home care workers, basically. Wow. So yeah, the terminology I used was aggressive incident. Got it. All right. I'll definitely.


share that and yeah and I haven't, you know, personally I mean as somebody whose role is supporting the home care agencies and we provide you know software for managing that, I haven't really been on the front lines and experienced that but I bet it's more rampant than I've seen. I mean this is a pretty big number and something that we should all be concerned about. So


Let me swing back to this, there's this cool looking guy, this cool looking company, Kwema over there, and they have this name badge. One thing I have observed when I visited a lot of our home care agencies is that some of them, their policy is for a lot of good reasons to have a name badge for their people. When a caregiver comes, you know that they're...


associated with the agency and all that kind of thing. And, you know, and your company has a name badge and you know, tell me a little bit about it and you know, how does it relate to safety? Yeah. So we, we, we found this company called CREMA, which by the way, the Swahili word, it means like all good, I'm safe. I'm in a good place. It's also used to ask like, Hey, is everything okay? Right. So it's kind of like all good, right? You can use it as a affirmative, or you can use it as a question. Hey, all good, all good, but right. Like similar to that. And that's kind of what we do, right? We,


empower people to say, hey, I need help, or empower people to check in with everything, is everything okay, right, kind of thing. So what we did is, because of all this workplace violence and across the country, I think it's costing the industry about $56 billion. This has just been a study that was released by Fast Company, I wanna say like a month ago or something. The industry is suffering $56 billion every year because of workplace violence. So what we did, and when I say workplace violence, you always have to remember that


a bad actor is involved, right? Like, there's somebody who is creating the violence. It's not like a machine. It's not safe. It's security. Very different, right? So that means that there's going to be somebody there who is a bad actor and you want to kind of be discreet and how you call for help. Right? So what we did is you mentioned that already, like every every healthcare worker, one of these like they have the name tags.


have it at all times because it's in some states, it's actually mandated. You have to identify yourself as a healthcare worker before you get, you walk into a house or you can receive any patient, any, any care from a patient, right? Or any care to a patient when you can give it in care to patient. So we did is we took what they were right here, because they're Badger real and we made it smart. So we're, we're the only company that has done this and we actually are on a patent for that. So the fact that you wear it and then you can press the button.


just makes it so easy and discreet and you don't have to remember where it is. It's not an additional workflow. It's something that's on you at all times. And when you need it, it's going to be on you. Right? So that's really the value there. It's like I can press it without escalating a situation of violence. So you can just be like, hey, look, I'm just a nurse. I know you're frustrated. I'm on your side. And by that time you've already pressed the button and you show them your name tag, reminding them that you're just a nurse. You're not the owner of the company or whatever. Right? Like, so there's all these de-escalation tips that you could use.


But the value here is that you're pressing it without alerting your attacker because you don't want to escalate that violence. Because if you alert the attacker, it gets worse very quickly. Right? And that's what we're avoiding. Yeah. No, some really, really good points. And I think you described it well. I mean, a lot of, I would say, the majority of people who are hearing this are going to be driving somewhere and not have the visual. But yeah, I mean, what Ali showed us is there's a name badge that is very typical.


You know, it has that nice retracting, you know, you can kind of pull it down and up and there's a little clip on the top. And, you know, that piece is maybe a little bigger than normal, but right there, there's, I guess, a hidden button on the side that they can press. And I love how you described it. You know, they just kind of reach up toward their badge and say, no, no, no, look, I'm the healthcare worker. You know, so it's kind of natural and they don't even detect that somebody's doing something and then they can reach up and they should, they could push that button.


Yeah, I mean, that's amazing. So when they push that button, what happens? Yeah, that's a great point to bring up. So when you push the button, what happens is it syncs with your cell phone or tablet and sends your GPS coordinates to 911 and your supervisor or anybody else on your team that you would wanna notify. So the goal here is that you're not helped on the way and now your job is to buy time as a victim basically, or a potential victim. So that's where we also...


started beefing up our offering by including some de-escalation tips, including some tactics, like using empathy as a weapon, like literally understanding where they're coming from. And caregivers do this very easily and they do this already, right? So it is just a matter of being really aware and unfortunately it is a weight on their shoulders, right? But if you're in the industry, unfortunately, it's something you have to keep in mind and wear with you. Yeah, no, I totally get it. So I guess I'm...


You know, 911, I guess a great thing about 911 is you could dial it from your cell phone anywhere and people know where you are. So is that kind of what's happening? Is that like it, you know, it's sort of dialing from your cell phone or is it? No, no, it's not. No, it's not. It's using the only thing we need is data. So fun fact, there's a lot more data coverage in the US and there is cell phone coverage. So as long as you have data, the ping goes to the cloud and the cloud does all that. So


We provide all that service in the backend basically. But you do get a phone call and a text message just in case you wanna cancel the alert. But most of the times nobody gets to their phone and getting to your phone is not a good idea anyway. So if it rings, you could maybe know like, hey, okay, at least the alert went through or you just don't pick it up because it'll make things worse. Like, hey, who are you talking to? Like hang up now. Like you don't wanna escalate that situation, right? And that's what could happen. Yeah, for sure. And we've heard some horror stories. So I think we've been to...


six home cure conferences right now. And we've heard some horror stories of the kind of things that people have to go through. It's very, very scary. Yeah. So I guess, like, you know, so today, I mean, I'm in Boston, which is my native home and that kind of thing. You're on the road today in Louisville. And if, you know, so if you push the button on your badge right now, I mean, does it somehow, you know, it kind of looks up where you are based on the GPS and then it kind of-


Yeah, like it's so specific 911 to call. Yeah, yeah, it's so specific. Like it would notify Boston Police Department versus Springfield Police Department, right? Like, or even different counties like Springfield Police Department versus Northampton Police Department, right? Like very different police departments, it would notify the specific one. Right. And we're notifying police not not firemen or, or, or, or emergency services. It's normally police that we would be notifying.


Okay, great. And I guess I'm just out of curiosity. I mean, I watched like this TV show called 911, right that I like. And, you know, and usually it's like, you know, somebody lied is answering saying, you know, 911, what's your emergency? And that kind of thing. So, you know, since this is happening in the cloud, is it speaking to them? Or is it like, you know, how is it? So, so, so via the phone, the text message and the phone call is the way you can speak to the not directly to the operator, but to like,


an agent, let's say an operation center that deals directly with the PSAPs of the police apartments. So for example, I'll give you an example that's maybe not very common in home care, but in a mass shooting, for example, somebody presses the button and hides in a closet but has their phone on them. They can talk to 911 because that's going to be loud. But what they can do is text so they can text and be like, active shooter. And that message gives more information to police when they arrive, they know, okay, there's an active shooter.


this person is in this part of the building or this person is in the park. And that can be helpful. That could be helpful for the police department to show up. Yeah. Very interesting. Remember that the active shooter, the police, when they come, they don't, they don't, they're not there to help. They're there to stop the threat. Right? So the first police officer that arrived, their job is not to like help the wounded. It's their job is to actively go after the threat.


The second and third and fourth cop or the third jobs normally to to to help an agent get people to say yeah Yeah, interesting. So yeah, this is interesting to get kind of a behind-the-scenes look at how things work Yeah, and I guess I'm a technology geek and now this is probably the part of the show that people won't like that much But there's there's this whole you know kind of world of technology. That's called the Internet of things or IOT and You know


One of the questions I teach a college class that's called digital technologies for entrepreneurs. I teach at a business school and I on the first day of class, I showed them this graph that says, you know, like, you know, that the the amount of data like on the day they were born that was in the known verse, like all the data in, you know, that was on all the computers in the world was, you know, like a certain amount. And now we're creating that much data every day. And


I asked them the question, I'm like, you know, so why is that? And they're like, oh, it's because of, you know, social media, you know, because of Facebook or it's because of, you know, Instagram and photos and things like that. And those are all really good guesses. I said, Nope. It's because, you know, then I kind of ask them another question to try to give them a hint. I say, I say, all right, have you guys heard in, you know, high school English of this guy called Shakespeare, right? And they're like, yep. And I say, well, you know, if you wanted to download to your phone, you know, every book he ever wrote. Um,


you know, like how long do you think it would take to download to your phone? And people are like, I don't know, 15 seconds, 30 seconds, you know, that kind of thing. So I said, well, you know, the thing is that, I mean, a brilliant human, you know, in their, their lifetime of work, I mean, they're, you know, they're not going to write that much in data, but you know, the reason that there's so much data out there is because machines are creating the data and, um, you know, so that's kind of it. So there is this whole, you know, internet of things, and this is like a really great example of using IOT technology for, uh, for safety and for making the world.


a better place. So thank you for what you're doing and that kind of thing. So what else? I mean, well, I think that some people might really be hooked right now and they're going to be like, Oh my gosh, I mean, you know, my, my, uh, caregivers, my direct service professionals, you know, whatever it is I have, um, in my organization, you know, they have bad, because anyway I'd love for them to, you know, get this badge is going to help them with their safety. So how would they, how would they contact Kwema and learn more about this? Yeah, they can, they can hit up,


our website, it's kwema.co. I actually have like a calendar link that you could book a quick demo and session with us. And we'd be happy to tell you more about how it works and the benefits. And on the topic of technology, I want to stick that out a bit more. I would say one of the beauties of what we've done is that we've done less, but focused on doing something really well rather than doing a lot of things.


And that's where like a lot of these wearables in healthcare are like not thriving in my opinion. And that's what we're seeing at least from the research we do with caregivers across the country and the world actually. Like there's some buttons on there that have like three or four buttons. It's like, if you're like high stakes and you're scared, like having three or four buttons or three or four functionalities or two use cases, like the red button is if I'm like only slightly scared, the green button is if I'm really scared, like who's gonna remember that? And


who's gonna have the time and peace to like find the one button, they press the right button, they press the wrong button, you know what I mean? So the fact that we did less and focused on really the human element of technology, which is removing behavior change, removing additional workflows, making it like a no brainer, the fact that you have it on you at all times. And then also it's something you're used to wearing every day. And we're even bringing it to the next level and adding like personality to it. So like...


some healthcare systems, for example, they're like, hey, we want our logo on it. And then I'm like, cool, we can do that. But it seems that some of your caregivers want to put their own stuff on it. So what if we have like, what if we design like five different Badger A.O. designs for a thousand caregivers and let them decide, like one says, I don't know, like nurse, like cool nurse or something like that. And it has a logo of the system, you know? So like those kinds of things like do matter, right? So the simplicity and the ease and the fact that it's like,


brainless almost like you said, innate button, you don't have to think about it. You're not actively put brainpower into pressing this button. You can just do it. And yeah, and you've kind of brought two thoughts to my mind. So one is that in the same college course, I we teach a I don't think we do it anymore. But we talked about this company that was actually founded in Massachusetts at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell, that's called Invisiware. And the idea was that, you know, like, oh, there's like this little bracelet you could wear or


this little pendant you can hang from your backpack that has a button on it. It does a similar thing. And, you know, and, uh, the other idea I could think of is, you know, like there's, there's this whole thing that is very germane to our, uh, you know, client population or patient population, which is called these personal emergency response systems, which is kind of the, I fall in and I can't get up button. And, you know, and I think that, I mean, part of the issue with both of these is that, um,


people just don't have them. It's like that extra thing, you know, like it's that extra piece of jewelry. Whereas I think one of the glorious things about the Kwema solution, in addition to the simplicity, is that they need it anyway. And, you know, and if like a lot of states have mandated that your health workers need to have a badge, that's great. But if your state hasn't, you should do it anyway, because, you know, because you're, I mean, first of all, it brings more of a professional


you know, kind of look to your agency. And secondly, it, you know, it can come with this safety element if you, if you know the right people and Ali's the right person. I appreciate it. And, and remember that, like, I, I like to say that I'm a nurse advocate, right? Nurse safety advocate or caregiver safety advocate. And the truth is, it's because there's, there's such a big fight happening right now for, for more, better work-to-work ratios, all those, all those fun stuff, right?


And one of the things that we really learned was that like having something that could share your location is a touchy subject because nobody wants to be tracked, right? So something else that we put in as a non-negotiable is you can't turn on the bad drill from your desktop to know where this person is because that's when you lose everybody, right? You'll lose momentum. You'll lose buy-in.


And that's really important because designing this from the caregiver's perspective is really how we want to go about it. And we advocate for the caregiver's safety. Like we go to boards and tell them, Hey, this is your legal and law responsibility to do this. But you know, because I'm a nice guy, I'm going to figure it out financially too. So let's talk about that. Right. But in reality, we're, we're poking the bear. We're poking the bear and making sure that they, they, they spend money on safety of their caregivers, not, not all the time they say yes, but


we try to make good argument, right? So it's important. It's an important topic. Yeah, and we actually get that same question. So we provide what's called EVV or electronic visit verification. And so the way that's working is in most cases, the caregiver is clocking in and they're clocking out with their mobile app. And at those times we have to essentially prove that they're at the correct service location. So we are grabbing location then, but just as you said, we're not.


We're not like low jack or anything where they're where we know where they are at all times and when they're not working and things like that, we have actually there's no way that the agency can say, you know, where's this caregiver right now using our technology on things like that. So so I think that you've really done it the right way. And yeah, that's awesome. Alright, so listen, we're in the home stretch. I think people have learned a lot from this. Thank you, especially for really kind of highlighting us to the importance of caregiver safety and what's happened there. And, you know, it really does sound like you guys have come up with a


fantastic solution and I'm happy that it's becoming more the conversation. And I hope that, uh, you know, this podcast and all the other outreach you're doing in the community is going to bring more people to have this great, uh, safety mechanism. So, so one more time to get in touch with Kwema, the company, you would go to K-W-E-M-A dot co. Uh, so it's like, you're just C-O it's not dot com. So that's like one thing to be a little bit careful of, but I think if you just type K-W-E-M-A, you're going to find it.


And there's a link right there to say, you know, go ahead and set up a meeting and you learn more about it. And yeah, so let me just thank you one more time, Ali. Thank you for being with us today and for sharing this really important message on our home care heroes and day service stars. Yeah, I really appreciate it. And to everybody out there, if you mentioned that you came to us through this podcast, I'm happy to send over some free samples. So happy to help you to help you keep your staff safer. Love it.


Appreciate you. Talk soon. 

Thanks for joining us today on the Home Care Heroes and Days Service Stars podcast produced by Ankota. You can listen to back episodes by visiting for homecareheroes.com. That's the number four, then the words homecareheroes.com

Thanks for joining us today on the Home Care Heroes and Days Service Stars podcast, produced by Ankota. You can listen to back episodes by visiting 4HomeCareHeroes.com. That's the number 4, then the words HomeCareHeroes.com.


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