This year, Healthwatch and a team of volunteer Digital Champions helped some of our older residents to understand the benefits of being online and to develop confidence with their devices, thanks to a partnership scheme with Clarion Housing.
Between December 2019 and March 2020, our staff and volunteer digital champions gave support to 44 residents of social housing, and the supported living schemes at Foxham Road, Hawberry Lodge, Ash Court and Cope House.
As well as visiting the schemes we provided twice monthly drop in sessions open to all.
Residents who found it hard to text or touch small icons on the screen were shown how to interact with their phones using the voice activated digital assistant. Others wanted help with online shopping, or to register on the housing portal that allowed them to pay bills or request repairs online. We showed everyone who participated where to access trustworthy sources of information online, and how to search the web and bookmark the sites they felt would be most useful to support their health and wellbeing.
How has our programme of digital support been affected by the pandemic?
We are no longer able to visit supported living schemes or deliver digital workshops in community venues due to the coronavirus pandemic. However we continue to provide digital support to local residents who need it. With social distancing measures in place, it's even more important that people are supported to get online.
Learning how to use Zoom was 'very inspirational' for Marlene.
Marlene got in touch by email. She had received a laptop through a local charity but was unable to access the machine with the given password. Marlene was in her seventies and was shielding during coronavirus. She had several health issues including diabetes and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and relied on volunteers' support with shopping and collecting prescriptions.
We helped her get into her laptop. Afterwards, she told us she was interested in learning how to use Zoom on her phone. This was because Marlene's daughter was in hospital on dialysis. Marlene was unable to visit her in person because of the pandemic but she still wanted to see her. We talked Marlene through the process of downloading the Zoom app (Zoom is a video-conferencing tool). Once she'd done this we practiced using it together. We went over the different processes for making video calls on WhatsApp and on Zoom. We also sent her instructions showing her how to invite her daughter to a Zoom meeting. She was very pleased with the help she received.