We are using IT to combat rural isolation for older people who have limited access to public services and rely on Cotswold Friends’ volunteers to live independently at home.
Many older people are wary of using the telephone if they have impaired hearing; receive frequent nuisance calls; long waiting times for service providers.
Our staff and volunteers have noticed an increase in need/requests for IT help from clients, usually for practical, everyday matters where providers have moved almost exclusively online.
Assistance with IT from a knowledgeable, trained volunteer will widen their world, help alleviate isolation and provide a more effective solution to communications and access to practical support for:-
Social contact: reaching friends, family
Joining community groups/hobbies
Applying for blue badge permits, car tax, insurance
Ordering online groceries
Online GP appointments, repeat prescriptions
Local services, transport, financial assistance.
What we'll deliver:
- promote the service to GP surgeries, social prescribers, local community
- recruit and train at least 10 volunteers
- support at least 50 clients
- evaluate the service in 2023
Why it's a great idea:
The project will have an enabling effect on participants. IT assistance with practical matters (managing domestic, financial, personal health etc) will relieve clients’ anxiety/stress, give them a sense of control and capability, and assist their mental health.
Contact with family and friends, access to social/community activities through IT will encourage a sense of belonging, of connection to the local community, which will reduce feelings of loneliness and support wellbeing.
Family (especially those at long distance) will benefit from increased connectivity with their relative, being able to see them over zoom, reassurance of knowing they can be in touch quickly if needed.
Service providers will benefit from an alternative, more efficient form of communication with clients, potentially saving on time and travel costs.
Enabling older vulnerable people to use IT will help improve levels of independence, health and wellbeing and reduce reliance on overstretched public service
Steps to get it done:
- recruit and train 10 IT volunteers
- identify 50 clients through referrals from other services
- link clients to trained volunteers
- at 4 months review volunteers and clients
- at 8 months begin evaluation
Our charity supports over 2000 local older people, providing 7 community services with the help of 300 local volunteers: Transport, Befriending, Community Activities, Carer Support, Intergenerational, Independence and Hospital Services. The services ensure that older people are looked after and connected within their community, able to live independently at home for longer.
The IT project has developed out of our Independence Service and is not intended to replace existing provision, but will be add-to and enhance our established volunteer ‘in-person’ services and will allow us to reach more people, more effectively, connecting them to the support they need.
The project will be delivered through/alongside our existing community services, in home if required. Volunteers will also be available to give ‘on the spot’ support at our monthly Lunch Clubs (14 locations) and at our fortnightly Day Clubs in Moreton and Bourton. They will use iPads provided by the Cotswold Friends.