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Home for Life Design Case Study

Salisbury, NC 
www.homeforlifedesign.com

Home for Life Design is a service and application platform that helps aging and disabled populations live safely in their home for life. Their technology gives professionals the ability to conduct effective, metric driven, home safety assessments whether in-person or in virtual settings. Home for Life Design is a 2021 MICRO and 2023 SEED Grant Recipient.

Submitted By Carolyn Sithong
Published June 2024

Carolyn Sithong, Founder and Chief Health Officer

Earlier in my career as an Occupational Therapist in Florida, I had the privilege of helping individuals recover from severe injuries and serious health complications. Through my work, I realized that while patients resumed function in the hospital, disability reoccurred upon returning home. I quickly learned of the many environmental barriers faced by my patients and the lack of resources needed to make their homes safe and accessible, this inspired me to start Home for Life Design.

In Occupational Therapy, we assess individuals and develop personalized strategies for their recovery. Home for Life Design applies this same approach to person’s homes, helping create healthy living environments tailored to the individual’s needs and lifestyles.

In 2020, my family moved to North Carolina following a job opportunity for my husband. Shortly after moving, I was diagnosed with cancer. This life-altering event forced me to reconsider whether or not I should restart my company. I knew deep down that Home for Life Design was my calling. Learning about the NC IDEA MICRO program reignited my passion, so I applied. In the Fall of 2021, I was awarded the grant and went through their programming, which coincided with my cancer treatment. The program provided the necessary support to reinvent myself and it validated my business.

                                   Carolyn with Client

Despite my success during the MICRO grant period, I hesitated to apply for the SEED grant due to the uncertainty of leaving my full-time job and healthcare benefits. This was especially challenging after undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Amy Bastian, VP of Grants & Programs at NC IDEA, believed in my vision and encouraged me to take the leap. Her support was monumental, and it paid off.

Winning the SEED grant in the Spring of 2023 opened numerous opportunities. We integrated our software with several nonprofits that specialize in helping elderly individuals stay in their homes. Through these successful partnerships, we collected data showing a significant improvement in home accessibility and safety ratings. In a recent research study with Huntington University, 25 of the homes that we have supported saw an average accessibility rating increase of 31% and a safety rating increase of 29%.

The future of Home for Life Design is promising. This summer, we hired an intern from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and will apply for an SBIR grant later this year. We aim to augment our existing technology- enabling housing, disability and healthcare service providers to conduct home assessments from any location, for any individual living in any type of home. My dream continues to come true as Home for Life Design eliminates disability, one home at a time.

      Occupational Therapist with Patient

Reflecting on this journey, my advice to anyone reading this is to pursue your passion. It is instilled uniquely and personally to you, at this moment for a reason. Even if the timing for launch is up against something as big as cancer, it may be the best time for your inner entrepreneur to strive, against all odds, for greatness.

 

Follow Home for Life Design: Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter/X, Facebook

Salisbury, NC 
www.homeforlifedesign.com

Home for Life Design is a service and application platform that helps aging and disabled populations live safely in their home for life. Their technology gives professionals the ability to conduct effective, metric driven, home safety assessments whether in-person or in virtual settings. Home for Life Design is a 2021 MICRO and 2023 SEED Grant Recipient.

Submitted By Carolyn Sithong
Published June 2024

Carolyn Sithong, Founder and Chief Health Officer

Earlier in my career as an Occupational Therapist in Florida, I had the privilege of helping individuals recover from severe injuries and serious health complications. Through my work, I realized that while patients resumed function in the hospital, disability reoccurred upon returning home. I quickly learned of the many environmental barriers faced by my patients and the lack of resources needed to make their homes safe and accessible, this inspired me to start Home for Life Design.

In Occupational Therapy, we assess individuals and develop personalized strategies for their recovery. Home for Life Design applies this same approach to person’s homes, helping create healthy living environments tailored to the individual’s needs and lifestyles.

In 2020, my family moved to North Carolina following a job opportunity for my husband. Shortly after moving, I was diagnosed with cancer. This life-altering event forced me to reconsider whether or not I should restart my company. I knew deep down that Home for Life Design was my calling. Learning about the NC IDEA MICRO program reignited my passion, so I applied. In the Fall of 2021, I was awarded the grant and went through their programming, which coincided with my cancer treatment. The program provided the necessary support to reinvent myself and it validated my business.

                     Carolyn with Client

Despite my success during the MICRO grant period, I hesitated to apply for the SEED grant due to the uncertainty of leaving my full-time job and healthcare benefits. This was especially challenging after undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Amy Bastian, VP of Grants & Programs at NC IDEA, believed in my vision and encouraged me to take the leap. Her support was monumental, and it paid off.

Winning the SEED grant in the Spring of 2023 opened numerous opportunities. We integrated our software with several nonprofits that specialize in helping elderly individuals stay in their homes. Through these successful partnerships, we collected data showing a significant improvement in home accessibility and safety ratings. In a recent research study with Huntington University, 25 of the homes that we have supported saw an average accessibility rating increase of 31% and a safety rating increase of 29%.

The future of Home for Life Design is promising. This summer, we hired an intern from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and will apply for an SBIR grant later this year. We aim to augment our existing technology- enabling housing, disability and healthcare service providers to conduct home assessments from any location, for any individual living in any type of home. My dream continues to come true as Home for Life Design eliminates disability, one home at a time.

      Occupational Therapist with Patient

Reflecting on this journey, my advice to anyone reading this is to pursue your passion. It is instilled uniquely and personally to you, at this moment for a reason. Even if the timing for launch is up against something as big as cancer, it may be the best time for your inner entrepreneur to strive, against all odds, for greatness.

Follow Home for Life Design: Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter/X, Facebook