Can You Help Us Support Older People To Be More IT Confident During Covid?
Posted on 15 Sep 2020
With the support of the Community Foundation Wales, we are currently developing a standalone app that can be used by more IT confident older people. The first version is being created for iPhones and iPads with an Android version to follow shortly after.
Why is this needed?
Social distancing restrictions have had a serious impact on Book of You’s day to day work, supporting the needs of older people living in care homes and the community. However we are in a fluid and changing situation, and therefore want to prepare for the needs of the next 12 months when the mental health impact of Covid-19 on older people is still likely to be significant.
It has been shown that older people, especially those shielding, have experienced heightened feelings of loneliness during the pandemic. The Red Cross has found that a substantial minority in the UK lack regular face to face interaction and feel alone and uncared for. 33% believed their loneliness would get worse in the coming months.
We have found that the process of undertaking a shared conversation with family and friends improves wellbeing and reduces that sense of isolation. With this in mind, we want to use Book of You’s Digital Life Story work to help older people feel less isolated and be better able to access online services. In a project with Cartrefi Conwy Housing Association in 2018, we found that our work helped older people reconnect with friends and family and helped them in particular to have confidence in using technology to stay in touch. Focusing on life stories gave different generations an appreciation of the lived experience that grandparents may have had for example, and built lasting connections.
“Julia said before lockdown she had a “really good social life” but has felt ‘really shutdown’ since and has experienced anxiety attacks. “Because I live out in the country and I don’t have any neighbours – I just don’t see another human being. For 14 weeks, the only other person I’ve seen is the postman or a food delivery driver. I have some days I just get so down I spent half the day crying, because I just don’t see when I’m going to be able to see people or do anything. I’m lonely, I don’t see anybody. All I see is sheep.” BBC Wales 14/6/20
How we will help those left behind
Covid-19 has driven many services deeper online, taking them further away from people who lack the confidence to use technology to access cheaper, more convenient products and services such as online shopping. It often isn’t the access to technology, rather the confidence in using it.
The standalone life story app will be distributed free of charge. Book of You want to complement this with a project, also funded by Community Foundation in Wales, to help us to recruit and train ‘Life Story Volunteers’ across Wales. These Volunteers will be able to work with their families and their communities both now and as lockdown eases. They will help older people tell their stories and also use technology to keep in touch with friends and family in the event of further lockdowns. We hope to recruit at least 50 volunteers for this project. This will help us to provide social impact at scale across Wales.
Book of You will pilot this new approach through community volunteers and family members across Wales. We
will recruit and train volunteers via Zoom, and Volunteers will be able to work from their own home. We will also set up systems of supporting and managing them. We will work with other providers including Digital Communities Wales and carers agencies to maximise the training and ‘share’ existing volunteers.
Being able to build a team of motivated Volunteers will ensure that we can work with them in local communities on an ongoing basis. We want Book of You to be able to work at scale all the way across Wales and this Volunteer model, building on our successful experience of working through Associates and volunteers for a number of years, will allow us to begin this process.
We are expecting a long term impact on the mental health of isolated older people, and see our Volunteers supporting their needs regarding social engagement and IT as a channel to support their lives when services are more online.
Who we are looking for and how you can help
We are looking for all types of people. We currently work with students, retired people, ex-NHS staff, young people, carers, Dementia Friends… anyone! You can even sign up to be a Volunteer and just work with your own family members, for example, grandparents. If you would be interested in finding out more information about volunteering with us on this project, please get in touch with Kathy on 01492 555381 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Watch Video Here!