METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR PROVIDING CARE
A structure and method for providing care is provided.
This application claims the benefit of and priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/944,985, filed Jun. 19, 2007, the disclosure of which is now incorporated herein by reference.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates generally to personal care, and more specifically to tending to the nutritional and hygienic needs of persons in public places.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Currently, even in the “finest” stores at shopping malls, women typically sit on couches or chairs in the women's restroom lounge area to breastfeed or change diapers, or have to go to their car in the mall parking lot to breastfeed. The last resort is to breastfeed the child in public, somewhere on a bench in the mall, or in the mall's busy and noisy food court, which is often an uncomfortable situation for the mother, the baby and other customers. This is extremely inconvenient, is stressful on both mother and baby (current places in most malls/stores to breastfeed or bottle-feed infants are noisy, dirty and not private) and takes extra time and effort to accomplish. So, too, in other public places, such as airports, bus stations, train stations and the like, there are not dedicated rooms to care for babies, children, the handicapped, the elderly, or even one's own personal needs. A need exists to provide private and suitably equipped spaces to provide for care. This is especially so given the increasing numbers of nursing mothers and the aging population, as well as the long periods of time spent shopping, or in travel status at airports and the like, and the inability to take necessary liquid supplies through security checkpoints.
Regardless of disposable income, people want to and will do what is in the best interest of their children or other persons or charges in their care. If given the opportunity/choice, they will take action and spend money on something that is good for their child rather than doing something that is harmful, creates a problem for, or distresses their child. Nursing/breastfeeding mothers and their families are people who are devoted to their children and family and to their well-being. Nursing/breastfeeding mothers who work have a busier, more demanding and stressful lifestyle, but they are no less devoted to their children or families and in fact, are an ideal customer for the inventive concept.
Current attitudes about breastfeeding in public are not positive or supportive and demonstrate a need for a solution to enable mothers to safely and privately breastfeed their babies while in public places, such as shopping malls. According to a national survey of public beliefs about breastfeeding published in the August 2006 Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 57 percent of those polled said that women should “not have a right” to breastfeed in public. 72 percent said that it's inappropriate to show a woman breastfeeding on TV programs or commercials. Similarly, the public does not want to see diapers changed in public and families do not want to change diapers in the public bathroom or in one of the few “family” bathrooms that are sometimes offered.
From a customer service, marketing and advertising perspective, shopping malls and other public spaces are not very “family friendly” for nursing mothers and their families, or for those who need to care for a charge, such as for example and without limitation an invalid or other person with special needs. Public spaces are not the kind of shopping environment where a nursing mother looks forward to spending time and making purchases, because she knows the hassles that lie ahead at the mall, if/when she needs to feed her baby. The same holds true for changing diapers, whether for children or adults, or emptying colostomy bags, or suffering sickness, etc. The mall itself or stores in the mall are not aware of this problem and the negative impact it has on their business. The same holds true for other public spaces such as transit centers. Similarly, these public spaces typically do not have supplies for feeding, waste disposal, changing diapers, diapers themselves, sanitary supplies and the like.
Not only do caregivers have to deliver care in public, but during the time when they are delivering care, for example while breastfeeding, they are generally available for advertising solicitations. Such solicitations typically do not occur in public bathrooms or out in the areas between shops. The invention provides mall and store owners with a new and significant “family friendly” marketing, advertising and customer service tool for their business. General or targeted advertisements can be made to the caregivers in the structure set aside for care. The availability of the care space will draw more new moms and shoppers/families with babies to the mall, increasing mall sales. Further increasing sales will be the advertising delivered in the care spaces.
The instant invention provides users, such as caregivers, with convenience and peace of mind in public spaces; thereby, drawing more caregivers, including for example and without limitation nursing mothers, to such public spaces. It also provides a benefit and business advantage that other public spaces such as competing shopping centers/malls or transit stations will not have. Nursing mothers and other caregivers will prefer and will look forward to going to the shopping malls and other public spaces that have the care areas disclosed herein. In addition, these caregivers will be in a better frame of mind, and more likely to purchase things from the mall, etc.
Public spaces that have a care area will differentiate themselves from all other competitors by being the only place that provides this much needed service. Customers who would otherwise stay at home with their children or other charge and shop online can now be attracted to come to the mall and shop. Such care areas may also help with today's harried and busy lifestyles by providing other services, either for the charge or the caregiver (user), and products for sale. This will result in new business for the mall and the stores there.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention may comprise one or more of the features and combinations thereof set out below or in the claims appended hereto. A structure comprising a care area offering privacy in public spaces such as malls or other retail establishments, transportation centers such as airports, sporting venues and the like is disclosed. Illustratively, the care center or structure comprises a care area, which comprises a care room. The care room may be enclosed by walls of any suitable material including for example curtains and may have an entrance. The room may be of any desired size and shape and may be equipped with a personal support device. The personal support device may comprise a personal support surface, which illustratively may be any surface suitable for a person to lie on, to sit on, to change diapers on and the like. Illustratively, it may resemble an examination table typically found in physician examination rooms. The personal support device may also comprise a bed, a desk, a chair or other surface(s) or structure(s), alone or in combination with other such surface(s) or structure(s), upon which a person may sit, lie or otherwise rest or be supported by. A desk or other writing surface or work space may also be provided. The room may include supplies including washing, disposing and sanitizing supplies such as for example and without limitation washing and sanitizing devices such as for example personal hygiene or care products or personal care supplies and devices including for example and without limitation towels, wipes, powder, soap, sanitary napkins, diapers and the like. The supplies could be offered for sale. The room may also include sanitary devices including further washing and sanitizing devices or means for washing, sanitizing or disposing including for example and without limitation a basin or sink, a shower, a toilet, a waste disposal unit, a trash receptacle, a hand drier, a washing machine, a dryer, a sterilization device such as for example a bottle sterilizer, a compactor, a dispenser such as for example a soap dispenser, sanitary napkins, and/or bath. Communication devices including entertainment and advertisement delivery device(s) may be included in the structure. For example and without limitation, the room may include a computer, a television, a radio, a telephone, a facsimile machine, a device(s) for displaying or delivering to a user, or otherwise exposing a user to advertisement(s), a media player including a video game player, a CD player, a VCR, a DVD player, an mp3 player and the like. The room may have electrical outlets and wireless computer access for a user's own devices. For example and without limitation, charging stations for phones, ipods, computers, and the like may be provided. So too, the room may be equipped with computers and associated peripherals and/or just the peripherals for use with a user's personal computer. Such peripherals or communication devices may include for example and without limitation a printer, a monitor, a docking station, an input device(s) and the like. The room may have a facsimile machine, copy machine, pdf machine, scanner, and the like. Goods and services could be offered for sale to user(s) of the room. It will be appreciated that some of or all of the foregoing items could be in the care room, or a portion thereof such as a sanitary area (not shown) of the care room, or in a separate room, such as for example a wholly separate sanitary room or area apart from the care room. So, too, there could be a sanitary area in both the care room and a room separate and apart from the care room. Access to the care room and/or any sanitary room separate therefrom, may be controlled by an attendant, or it may be automated. For example, a service area may be provided. The service area could illustratively comprise a reception or welcome area, which may include for example a reception desk, where a user(s) could rent the care room and/or sanitary area, and/or could purchase supplies or other goods or services, or, illustratively, a user could purchase goods, services and use of the room from a machine such as a vending machine, kiosk, computer, and the like. The service area could also comprise for example and without limitation a vending area and a waiting area. The rooms, supplies, and services could be designed or optimized for any desired group including tall, short, large, small, or handicapped people. So, too, the rooms, services, goods, attendants, automated leasing/purchasing devices could be configured for any one or many different languages. The advertisement could be targeted and/or selectable for any target audience. The structure may also include or provide relaxation devices and methodologies.
These and other objects of the present invention will become more apparent from the following description of the illustrative embodiment.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING
The FIGURE depicts one embodiment of an illustrative care structure.
DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATIVE EMBODIMENTS
For the purposes of promoting an understanding of the principles of the invention, reference will now be made to a number of illustrative embodiments illustrated in the drawing and specific language will be used to describe the same.
Referring to the FIGURE one illustrative embodiment of a care structure 10 is provided. The illustrative structure 10 comprises a care area comprising at least one care room 16. The care room 16 illustratively is generally defined by walls 76a-76d or other suitable boundary. Such a care room may comprise for example and without limitation four walls 76a-76d that define a square or rectangular room. It will be appreciated that the care room 16 can take any desirable shape or geometry, including for example and without limitation a triangle, circle, parallelogram, octagon, star, trapezoid, rhomboid, or other suitable polygon. Whatever the shape of the room, an entryway or entrance 77 comprising an entrance and a partition will be defined. The partition may be for example a door. The door may be lockable. The care room may also have windows if desired. Such windows may have blinds, curtains or other privacy means. Thus, the care room illustratively will provide privacy for a user and the user's charge(s), if any. The care room 16 illustratively may have sound proofing technology.
While the care room may take on any desired configuration, the illustrative embodiment shows a care room 16 having a one or more personal support devices 17, 18. The care area or room 16 may include a sanitary area (not shown) and/or a room 20 separate and apart from the care room 16 may comprise a sanitary area. Illustratively, the personal support device may include device(s) having a relatively flat surface 17, for example and without limitation it may comprise a table, a desk, a bed, a couch or other suitable item or combination thereof. For example and without limitation the surface may resemble an exam table that a patient sits or lies on in a doctor's office. The personal rest or support surface or device 18 may illustratively comprise a chair, a recliner, a couch, a love seat, a stool, or other suitable item alone or in combination with one or more of the foregoing. The room illustratively may further include one or more communication or transmission device(s) 19. The communication device(s) may deliver, display or expose the user(s) to any manner of information including for example and without limitation advertisements, medical information, entertainment, news, information on the structure and supplies, products and/or services offered therein. The communication, transmission or advertisement delivery device 19 may be for example a television set (TV) or any of the other communication devices such as an electronic kiosk or banner or other communication device listed herein below. Such a communication device may be in any area of the structure including the service area 14, the care room 16, the sanitary area 20, the supply room 30, the office 40, and/or the hallway 75. The TV may have access to public stations as through broadcast, cable or satellite TV, and/or it may have closed circuit access to controlled programs, for example advertisements or educational programs. They may also allow for video-teleconferences, for example with a licensed professional such as a doctor or nutritionist. The TV may be coupled to or integrated with one or more media players or other device including communications devices such as for example and without limitation a VCR machine, a CD player, a DVD player, a stereo, a telephone, a facsimile machine, and the like. The care room 16 may have a telephone, a facsimile machine, a stereo or other suitable communication device known to those skilled in the art. Libraries of CDs, DVDs, VCR tapes and the like could be available for use. Other music sources or communication devices such as a radio may be provided. Further communications devices such as for example computers, internet access and printers can also be provided. Docking stations for computers, PDAs and digital players, such as for example iPods may be provided and coupled with an output device such as a printer, monitor and/or speakers. Such use could be covered by the rental fee for the care room, or be subject to an additional fee. Rather than a per use rental fee for the care room, a user could purchase a membership. Maybe a personal shopper could communicate with the user and bring items to the care room, or meet the user later.
The care room 16 and/or a supply room 30 and/or a service area 14, may be stocked with various supplies or items for sale, or for use in the care room. Such items may relate to the care for the charge, for example breastfeeding of a nursing child, or diapers for a child or adult. For example and without limitation the following items may be stocked: breast pump and breastfeeding items; baby food and juice; diapers and diaper wipes; diaper bags; bottled water; baby DVDs/VCR tapes; toys; blankets; clothes; talcum powder; soap; and the like. Reading materials may be provided. The care room and/or the service area may also have a refrigerator, a microwave and/or a stove. These and other items may be advertised on bill boards, in printed publications or any one of the electronic or communication items or devices in the structure 10.
Illustratively, the structure 10 will provide for a plurality of care rooms depending on the space available. Each structure 10 may have a sanitary room or area 20 such as a bathroom. The sanitary area may be a room or area separate from the care room(s) 16 as depicted in the FIGURE, or it may be included as an area within the care room(s) 16 itself. The sanitary area 20 illustratively may comprise alone or in combination a toilet 21, a sink or basin 22, a shower, and/or a bath tub or other suitable washing and/or sanitizing means or device. Waste disposal units, devices or means may be provided in any care room 16, sanitary area 20 or other room/area of the structure 10. Exemplary waste disposal units include but are not limited to trash cans or receptacles, diaper disposal units or receptacles, disposals, compactors, toilets and the like. Sterilization devices or means may be provided, for example to sterilize bottles, breast pump parts, utensils, hands, and the like. Medical equipment such as for example and without limitation first aid supplies and a defibrillator may also be provided.
Any manner of relaxation devices or items may also be provided. For example and without limitation, a fountain, a candle, an incense burner or other burning medium, aromatherapy devices, music, and the like may be provided. In the event any burning or heating element or item is provided, proper safety precautions and rules should be observed. For example, the room could have a fire extinguisher.
The service area or room 14 may comprise an entryway 11 and suitable furniture. Structure doorway(s) or entrance(s) 77 and entryway(s) 11 illustratively may be configured to allow easy access for strollers, wheelchairs, walkers and the like. For example, a desk 13 may be provided for employees to greet, sign in and/or process users. Processing may also be automated. For example, a user could swipe a membership card or credit card and pick a room and/or supplies, and/or desired service from a screen. An access card could then be produced to allow the user into the rooms. Examples of suitable access cards include but are not limited to credit card sized cards as might be found in hotels, a personal credit card that may be given an access code when swiped, and a security key card as used for access to doors and elevators. The supplies could be dispensed from vending machines, and the like, or they could be dispensed by an attendant. Supplies and/or reading and/or education materials may be on display in display cases 15 or vending machines 15, for example. Personal support items or furniture such as chairs/stools 12 or couches may be provided. The structure, illustratively, may also have an office 40. The office 40 could be for use by an employee, a service provider such as a health professional, or a user. The office 40 may also be an employee break room; or a break room could be provided separately if desired. The structure could also have a consultation room for use, for example and without limitation by a licensed health practitioner such as a doctor, physicians assistant, nurse, nurse practitioner, herbalist, and the like. So, too, a therapeutic room such as for example a treatment room, a massage room, or beauty-care room could be provided. In the alternative, a health practitioner, masseuse, beauty technician and the like could be summoned to a user's care room 16. A hallway 75 illustratively connects the various areas of the structure 10.
The care room 16 and/or service area 14 may provide electrical outlets and/or charging stations for the user. For example, electrical outlets and/or chargers for laptop computers, printers, cell phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), breast pumps, glucose monitors, kidney machines, and the like. Supplies may be provided for the foregoing, as well as other supplies such as oxygen tanks, oxygen caddies, oxygen, glucose monitor strips, and the like.
Illustratively, in operation, a user could be provided with a care room 16. Use and access to the care room could be provided by an employee at a service desk 13 in the welcome or reception area 14, or could be reserved on-line, or could be secured at the service desk through a computer interface or automated kiosk or other automated device, for example. Other means are contemplated by the invention. As noted above, a user could swipe a membership card or credit card and pick a room and/or supplies, and/or desired service from a screen; or, an employee could process the user's requests for same. An access card could then be produced to allow the user into the rooms. The supplies could be dispensed from vending machines, and the like, or by an employee. The employee, or automated device could stock the service area or the care area with supplies. The user may have access to washing and/or disposal devices and/or means for sanitizing, washing, or disposing as set out herein. Advertising and/or content or information may be provided, displayed, or delivered to the user(s) through communication device(s) including for example and without limitation print or electronic media throughout the structure 10. Licensed professionals, such as health care providers, eye doctors or opticians, masseuses, estheticians, manicurists, pedicurists, hair stylists and the like could come to a user's assigned care room, or the user could go to one of the therapeutic rooms. So, too, a personal shopper, travel agent/representative, financial planner, or other service provider could come to the user's room. Medical testing could be offered as a service to a user. Other supplies, products and/or services could be offered to the user as desired.
While the invention has been illustrated and described in detail in the foregoing drawings and description, the same is to be considered as illustrative and not restrictive in character, it being understood that only illustrative embodiments thereof have been shown and described and that all changes and modifications that come within the spirit of the invention are desired to be protected.
1. A structure comprising:
- a care area having a care room defined by one or more walls, an entrance defined in one of the one or more walls; and a personal support device; and
- a sanitary area.
2. The structure of claim 1 wherein the personal support device includes a generally flat surface.
3. The structure of claim 2 wherein the personal support device comprises a table.
4. The structure of claim 2 wherein the personal support device comprises a bed.
5. The structure of claim 2 wherein the personal support device comprises chair.
6. The structure of claim 1 wherein the sanitary area comprises a sanitary device.
7. The structure of claim 6 wherein the sanitary device comprises a washing device.
8. The structure of claim 6 wherein the sanitary device comprises a disposal device.
9. The structure of claim 1 wherein the sanitary area comprises means for sanitizing.
10. The structure of claim 9 wherein the means for sanitizing includes one or more of the items chosen from the list consisting of a toilet, a wash basin, a trash receptacle, a shower, a disposal, a compactor, a dispenser, and a towel.
11. The structure of claim 1 wherein the care area further comprises a communication device.
12. The structure of claim 11 wherein the communication device comprises one or more of the items chosen from the list consisting of a computer, a radio, a television, a media player, an mp3 device, a telephone, a facsimile machine, signage, a kiosk, and an advertisement delivery device.
13. The structure of claim 1 further comprising a personal care supplies.
14. The structure of claim 1 wherein the sanitary area and the care area are separate and apart from each other.
15. The structure of claim 1 further comprising a service area.
16. The structure of claim 15 wherein the sanitary area, the care area and the service area are each separate and apart from one another.
17. The structure of claim 16 wherein the service area comprises:
- a reception area,
- a vending area, and
- a waiting area.
18. A structure comprising:
- a care area having a care room defined by one or more walls, an entrance defined in one of the one or more walls; and a personal support device;
- a sanitary area; and
- a service area including a reception area; and
- wherein the sanitary area, the care area and the service area are each separate and apart from one another.
19. A method of providing care, the method comprising:
- providing a structure having a care area;
- providing the care area with a personal support device;
- stocking the care area with personal care supplies;
- directing a user to the care area.
20. The method of claim 19 further comprising the step of exposing the user to an advertisement.
International Classification: E04H 3/00 (20060101);