A pilot scheme is underway to help people with emerging health and social needs connect more with the outside world using modern technology.
The project is a joint initiative between East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s adult services and the GP locality commissioning group in the Goole, Market Weighton and Howden area.
Those attending the training sessions are over 55 and have been referred either by their GP or the council’s adult social care team, who have identified the person as having emerging health and social care needs, such as a bereavement or loneliness.
At the sessions, people are taught how to use a tablet device, send emails, contact services they may need online, use the voice calling facility as well as being able to navigate the internet.
They are also encouraged to download apps – in particular those that support self-care and self manage their emerging health needs, including interacting with their GP and local pharmacy.
Others have been shown how to shop online and get their groceries delivered to their doors, one has been able to say “goodnight” to their grandchildren while others have been able to access music from the 1940s.
If the scheme proves to be a success then it will be rolled out to other areas across the East Riding.
John Fisher and Peter Copley have both been attending the training sessions at the Pastures Day Centre in Goole.
Mr Fisher said: “It’s a great scheme and I’m hoping that by learning to use the tablet it will enhance my communication, stimulate my mind and my way of thinking.
“It keeps my brain active and it keeps me up to date with modern technology.”
Mr Copley is also enjoying taking part in the scheme and he said: “Using this technology keeps me up with the times and allows me to be thought of equally when it comes to understanding modern technology.
“Once I have learned to use the equipment I hope I will be able to contact my grandson more as well as send and receive photographs.”
Councillor Richard Harrap, portfolio holder for adult and carer services at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “This is a new and innovative project that we hope will benefit those people who feel isolated in the community.
“It has been proven that social isolation and loneliness can damage people’s health but if we can help and support people to stay well and happy in their own homes it can help reduce the strain on social care and health budgets.
“Through East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s adult services connecting communities programme we are always on the look out for other ideas which will help and support the vulnerable people living in our area.”
Dr Clive Henderson, chair of the Goole, Howdenshire and West Wolds locality commissioning forum, said: “This project should liberate older people and reduce inequalities related to age and isolation.
“It should open a world of social networking, online shopping and access to medical and social information and support.
“We hope it is the start of a process which will snowball so that some of the pupils become teachers and that in itself, is a reason for people to gather together either physically or virtually.
“It is an example of the local authority working with the NHS to provide integrated health and social benefits and hopefully this is the beginning of better collaborations to come.”
Joan Fletcher, a director of the board of Healthwatch East Riding of Yorkshire said: “Healthwatch East Riding of Yorkshire is pleased to have been part of the group planning this innovative and worthwhile project.
“The training of a carefully selected group of older people to use tablet devices for social, personal and health matters is proving successful.
“The project, which aims to promote inclusion for elderly members of the community has started well and it is hoped that it can be further developed in the near future.”
E-ENABLEMENT FACTS AND FIGURES
* The project started in September and so far 11 people have received training
* The project has a budget of £10,000 which has been split equally between East Riding of Yorkshire Council and the GP locality commissioning group in the Goole, Market Weighton and Howden area
* the bulk of the cost is to the cost of the 20 tablet devices and setting up costs such as internet connection
* the tablets are only on loan to those taking part in the trial.
Peter Copley, (left) and John Fisher (right) with Chris Stoker, senior day service officer at Pastures Day Centre in Goole.