A smile crept across Elizabeth Pruitt’s face as she took her first “selfie” on Thursday, May 11.
Pruitt, of Inman was one of the first clients of Comfort Keepers of Spartanburg to be given her new grandPad, a tablet designed especially for seniors.
The Spartanburg-based franchise of the in-home care company, which serves residents of Greenville and Spartanburg Counties, has introduced the technology as part of its core service offering.
“Our goal has always been to help Upstate-area seniors stay happy, healthy, and engaged,” said Erin Couchell, who co-owns the franchise with her husband, Chris Couchell. “Our integration of the senior tablet not only expands our range of services, but it also allows us to more easily keep clients’ families informed on their loved one’s condition, recovery, and their evolving needs.”
In August 2016, Comfort Keepers parent company CK Franchising Inc. and grandPad, a privately held company based in Orange, Calif., announced an expanded worldwide partnership.
The Couchells, who, under Erin’s leadership, launched their franchise in 2006, said they embraced the grandPad as part of their mission to improve the quality of life of their clients.
The device features an 8-inch touch screen that users can activate and control with their finger or a stylus pen that is included in the box. It comes with a charging cradle, so users don’t have to worry about plugging in cords.
According to grandPad’s website, the tablet has a full high definition display resolution of 1920 x 1200, an Octa-Core Qualcomm processor, 2 gigabytes of RAM, 32 gigabytes of storage, and a 5-megapixel front and rear camera.
GrandPads are designed for users age 75 and older that have little or no experience with technology, the company said.
The tablet’s interface is simple. It comes preloaded with eight apps that are all displayed in bold type with a recognizable symbol.
Apps include a video call, mail, photos, camera, weather, a searchable music app with thousands of songs, games, and “lookup,” a non web-based search engine.
Instead of connecting to the Internet via Wi-Fi, each device is connected to Verizon’s 4G LTE network. Comfort Keepers of Spartanburg is offering the device and service for free to certain customers.
“It is a substantial cost for us,” said Chris Couchell. “But if it’s going to improve the level of care we provide and help our clients and their families, we’re happy to do it… We think it’s the right thing to do.”
Chelsea Jones, partner relations specialist with grandPad, said the tablets come with a protective case, but are insured from theft or damage just and will be replaced.
Jones said the grandPad was designed to keep seniors safe from computer viruses, ID theft, pop-up ads, and calls from telemarketers. No email addresses are viewable on the grandPad and it will only accept calls from phone numbers saved on the device.
All communications between the grandPad and the Internet are encrypted, the company said. The company uses cloud services to send content to the grandPad.
A family administrator can set up the device by using the company’s “central admin website.”
Family members can download a free companion app to their smartphone to send pictures and videos, either by uploading them directly, emailing them, or linking to their Facebook and Instagram accounts.
The website allows family members to see how much their loved one is using the device. The company can also monitor the device and send notifications to family members if there has been a long period of inactivity.
Chris Couchell said caregivers even clock in and out on the device. Information about the customer’s care can be made available so family members can see what treatment has been administered, or what might need to be done.
Jones said the tablet lasts about 10 hours on a full charge and takes about six hours to fully recharge from 0 to 100 percent.
GrandPad offers 24-7 U.S.-based support, Jones said.