Residents in some of our 55 retirement living communities in Staffordshire and Shropshire are making new connections, having received tablet computers and data from a social change charity.
The devices have been awarded by the Good Things Foundation, which also provided funding for training to help the residents learn how to get the best out of their new technology, safely.
Although many older people are digitally active, Office of National Statistics figures suggest that more than a third of those aged 65+ don’t have access to the internet. The Centre for Ageing Better and Good Things Foundation has also found that a lack of internet access is often associated with social isolation and loneliness for over 65s.
In an increasingly digital world, people who don’t own smartphones or personal computers and can’t get online, can find it difficult to stay in touch with friends and family, connect with utility companies and banks, make appointments and even shop for essentials.
“The COVID-19 pandemic brought home the importance of the internet, for all of us,” explained Les Clarke, Housing Plus Group’s Executive director of housing and care.
“In lockdown we shopped online, sought advice and kept in touch with friends and family. Some of us worked digitally and, for children and young people, education went online.
“We know that some of the people who live in our retirement living communities are not able to use the internet and we make sure that we provide news and important information in a range of different formats.
“We are conscious of the digital divide that can leave people excluded from services and are delighted to see this new group of super-surfers getting online.”
Along with the tablet computers, the nominated residents have received six months of free data and of course Wi-Fi is available in the social spaces of many of our retirement communities. They have also been helped to get online from their retirement living officer or activities coordinator. In some schemes, Care Plus is working in partnership with education charity ConGens Group, to provide IT training to residents, individually or in small groups.
Cath Ruff is one of those who has received the new technology: “I had never used a tablet or computer before. It has been lovely to see photos of my great-grandchildren and to keep in touch with my family.”
Denise Williams’ tablet meant that she could take her first look at our new website and learn how much she could do online. “The Homes Plus website looks great. I will definitely be using it in the future, because I can report any concerns in the comfort of my own home, when I am free in the evenings.
“I’m really enjoying using my tablet to do online shopping, book appointments and message my daughter. I would recommend anyone to have a go at getting online, as it’s never too late to learn. We had four sessions with the trainers, and they were very patient with us. The next thing I would like to try, is Zoom!”