By Susan Saldibar

What’s worse?

Having a resident who forgot to turn off her stove start a huge fire?

Or,

Treating her like a baby by taking away her stove to avoid a fire?

What a choice. 

But if you tuned into the latest Foresight TV, you now know that it’s a choice you’ll never have to make after meeting Akshita Iyer, with Amity (a Foresight partner).

This fix is so simple you won’t believe it. 

Amity makes smart stove knobs that “know” they need to be turned off. I’m not kidding. This is very real, and the knobs are very easy to install. (You can schedule a demo and check it out for yourself.) Plus, there is a smart dashboard that lets staff know if everyone has turned off their stoves. (They don’t have to spend valuable time running around checking.)

And, as with most great innovations, Amity’s smart knobs came out of a very personal experience.

As Akshita tells it, she and her mom were sitting together one evening watching Shark Tank together (more about that in a minute). Her mom forgot to turn off her stove. That ignited a nasty kitchen fire.

Putting out the fire wasn’t the hard part. Knowing what to do to avoid another one was. 

Folks around Akshita were of little help. All they told her was to “just take the knobs off her stove,” or “just have her stove removed.” Seriously? And I was shocked to learn that this is actually happening in senior living communities. Hopefully not yours.

But then again, no one wants to burn down their senior living community.

“Unattended equipment” (aka stoves) in a kitchen is one of the biggest causes of fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Just Google it, and you’ll see story after story about nursing home fires.

And the fiery tentacles reach into and disrupt all areas of a senior living community. Many operators never recover. In addition to the potential cost of human lives, hundreds of thousands of dollars can be lost, between property damage and lawsuits. Ultimately, it’s a PR nightmare with once solid reputations now buried in ashes.

But here’s something I think is just as bad (maybe worse). The cost to human dignity. 

How many residents have long prided themselves in serving up amazing meals to their families over the years? How many residents find their greatest sense of purpose standing behind the stove, cooking up something delicious? (Mom’s apple pie, Dad’s omelets, I could go on and on.) As Akshita aptly puts it, “Cooking can define our identity, culture, and family traditions.”

So, if I were a resident, I’d be embarrassed enough about causing a fire because I left a burner turned on. What happens to me when someone comes in and takes the knobs off my stove, or brings in a dolly and carts it away? Insulting? Demoralizing? Dehumanizing? Just what you want for your residents, right?

What would having smart kitchen stove knobs do for your residents? For your liability? 

Amity is welcome news. What’s amazing to me is that someone didn’t come up with it earlier. Instead, it took a young Duke neuroscience grad with no plans to become an entrepreneur (she planned to become a doctor). Instead, propelled on a new mission, that Duke grad found herself pitching her smart stove knobs to Mark Cuban and his Shark Tank crew.

No joke, and what a great backstory! And one with a happy ending since, out of that experience, Akshita got the funding to grow Ome, the company behind Amity.

How lucky are we that Akshita took the road less traveled?

But you know who is really lucky? All those residents in assisted living who used to love to cook and bake for their families and want to continue to do so, for themselves, other residents, and visiting family.

“We have so much technology at our fingertips, but why can’t we leverage that to bring people together so that people can continue to do things they love?” Akshita tells Steve.

Now, thanks to her, we can.

Get a demo and start using Amity’s smart stove knobs now. And give them your feedback. Akshita wants to know what you think. She’s all about making their technology better and better, along with the lives of your residents.