Many people who work with older people and disabled people in care homes lack digital skills and are poorly placed to help residents use the internet and other vital tools, eAccess 13 delegates heard.
“We often find that the people who work with those in care are not particularly confident or skilled in their use of digital,” said Miles Maier, ICT champion at LASA, an organisation which helps charities and voluntary groups use technology.
To address this gap LASA has launched the Connected Care project, helping not-for-profit social care providers such as independent living centres, care homes and day care centres to use ICT more effectively, Maier said. Under the scheme, which has been funded by the Department of Health for three years, organisations receive an ICT ‘health check’ and an action plan to help staff become more digitally aware and boost skills.
The end goal is to enable those receiving social care to use technology more effectively, he said, allowing them to communicate with family and friends and have more control over their own care. “Our working theory is by providing people in social care with access to e-skills and digital technology, it is empowering and it is enabling,” Maier said.
In a complementary project the Disabled Living Foundation (DLF), which provides information on independent living, has launched a “Living Made Easy” web resource, offering impartial advice on assistive products and technology to everyone, the conference heard.
Ed Mylles, director of business development at the charity, said the resource is split into eight sections, including house and home; mobility and walking; leisure; and communication.
Users can browse a wide range of communications technologies and products including text-to-speech programmes, magnifiers, conversion amplifiers for hearing aids and mouse and keyboard alternatives.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport supported the development of the communication section including ICT access, helping to “widen the product area and specifically work on including software products”, Mylles said.
The communications section of Living Made Easy now contains details of more than 250 software products with prices and specification, as well as listing relevant ICT organisations that can provide further advice and support, he said.