Service deliveryAdult Social CareFunding awarded to innovative digital skills projects

Funding awarded to innovative digital skills projects

Smart homes, apps and tech-enabled palliative care projects receive funding

Three schemes are being given a share of £400,000 by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to improve older and disabled people’s lives through the Digital Inclusion Innovation Fund.

A number of ‘smart homes’ with digitally savvy older people demonstrating tech in their own homes are being created as part of an innovative scheme to boost the nation’s digital skills.

The homes, to be created in rural West Essex by a partnership led by Uttlesford Council for Voluntary Service, will see home owners become trained ‘digital boomers’ to help others improve their digital skills. They will receive a digital assessment, before having their homes ‘kitted out’ in tech.

The experts will then open their homes for older people to visit so they can learn first hand from their peers how to make the most of smart technology to control household appliances, book GP appointments online, contact friends and family by video, and shop online. Younger, ‘digital buddies’ will also be on hand to support with digital skills.

The fund will also see an app created by the Down’s Syndrome Association to allow people with Down’s Syndrome to monitor their weight and exercise levels from their smartphones to promote good health and wellbeing.

More than 70 per cent of people with Down’s Syndrome are classed as overweight or obese. The app will be the first of its kind specifically designed for those with Down’s Syndrome. It will also aim to connect people with a wider community of users which can help combat loneliness.

The Weldmar Hospicecare Trust will also explore, for the first time, how the lives of end-of-life and palliative patients can be improved through new technology and skills.

The project aims to research and develop technology to allow users to report on their health on a daily basis; provide consultations in a timely, convenient and cost-effective way via video to help patients with regular appointments; and support carers and families who are often also at risk of isolation and detrimental health and wellbeing impacts, while improving their digital skills.

Digital skills projects

John Fisher, chief executive, Citizens Online said: “We were impressed with the standard of entries to the Digital Inclusion Fund. Digital inclusion is essential to help people improve their lives in this digital age and this fund, targeting those most in need is a welcome enabler.

“The successful projects will produce valuable learning for all those working in this sector and help to improve the digital skills of older and disabled people.”

Research from Lloyd’s Consumer Digital Index 2018 has revealed that older and disabled people with have been highlighted as being the slowest to adopt basic digital skills and also have the lowest internet usage (ONS).

These initiatives will complement Government’s existing work to boost digital skills provision across the country. The Digital Skills Partnership has seen Government, businesses, charities and voluntary organisations joining forces to deliver more than 2.5 million free training opportunities in areas such as basic online skills, cybersecurity and coding.

Meanwhile, three Local Digital Skills Partnership pilots in Lancashire, the South West and West Midlands are bringing together businesses, charities, the education sector and public sector organisations to tackle local digital skills challenges to build thriving and inclusive local economies.

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