May 7, 2020

Communications for Older People during Covid-19

Age Action Getting Started Keep In Touch Programme
Age Action Getting Started Keep In Touch Programme

In Ireland, Covid-19 restrictions began in mid March and as a result, our Getting Started one to one classes for older people which were running in communities nationwide in Digital Literacy had to be cancelled. At the time, we had over 500 older people signed up for classes with volunteer one to one computer tutors to encourage people to bridge the digital divide and learn about the benefits of being online.

 

Never has it been so important for older people to be online than during this current Covid-19 pandemic. Older people are more isolated than ever and the benefits of online communications and information is of primary focus right now.

 

We immediately went about adapting our very successful Getting Started Programme into the following:

 

Age Actions’ Getting Started KIT supports older people to keep in touch with their loved ones during the Covid-19 pandemic. We all are feeling the effects of social distancing, and older people are particularly impacted being asked to cocoon at home. Now it is more important than ever to keep in touch with family and friends so Age Action drew on our Getting Started programme which offered face to face digital skills classes, to create easy How To Guides.

 

The Getting Started KIT is made up of seven How To guides that will support older people to learn, use, and be confident using smartphones and applications.

 

We are providing one to one remote tutoring for people who were signed up for Getting Started classes. We are doing this with the assistance of over 400 amazing volunteers who are going to teach their learner over the phone or over vide calling, once they can get their learner to that point.

 

We have produced our GS KIT which is available to the public also and we will post out the GS KIT to anyone around the country so that they can potentially teach themselves with the clear step by step guides.

 

See below for link to all our guides and an outline of some of the other benefits of Getting Started Keep In Touch Programme.

Links:

Jan 10, 2020

A Year in Review

As we lose mobility, basic household maintenance can become very difficult to manage. People who have been house-proud all their lives can suddenly find themselves unable to maintain their homes. Even something as simple as changing a light bulb can become a major problem for an older person who is not in a position to climb on a chair to change the bulb. Other household tasks such as trimming hedges, installing smoke alarms, changing locks and moving furniture cause similar difficulties.

Care & Repair is a service designed to help people to remain living in their own homes in increased safety and comfort. It provides a free small DIY service and a list of local tradesmen who can provide quotations for larger jobs.

Last year, the service was as busy as ever. During the spring and summer months we receive lots of requests for gardening work as well as the usual household repair jobs. Trimming hedges, weeding and general tidy ups are the most common requests. The garden is often the first thing that people struggle with as they lose mobility and it’s great to be able to brighten them up for people when the sun is shining!

Throughout the year we continued to install carbon monoxide alarms in people’s homes free of charge. We hope to receive another batch alarms from Gas Networks Ireland in 2020.  

Volunteers who give their time to help older people in their community are the lifeblood of the Care & Repair service. We worked to expand the volunteer team in 2019, particularly in Dublin where volunteers now have a more active role than ever before. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our volunteers all over the country for their efforts throughout the year.

The Care & Repair service is delivered by Age Action from our bases in Dublin, Cork and Galway. In order to make the service available to as many people as possible throughout the country, Age Action partners with local community organisations in cities, towns and rural areas. Age Action provides a series of supports including policies, procedures and on-site training so that local groups can launch the service in their area.

This network of community partners are an integral part of how the service is delivered. One of the most positive stories of the year was the re-launch of Care & Repair Waterford in April, much to the delight of residents. The launch event in St. Patrick’s Gateway Centre was very well received by an enthusiastic audience.

The pilot Hospital Discharge Service, launched in Cork in 2018, continued last year. This is an extension of the usual Care & Repair service to focus on the particular needs of people who are ready to be discharged from hospital but require work in their homes in order to return. Requests included clearing clutter, moving beds downstairs and collecting equipment from the hospital stores.

This element of Care & Repair requires some adaptations to the usual procedures to allow for the fact that the client may not be at home when work is being done. The systems have now been tested and we hope to roll out the service in other locations in 2020.

During the autumn and winter we receive many requests for sweeping leaves, blocking drafts and generally getting homes winter ready. One of the nicer jobs we get to do for people is to put up their Christmas decorations in December and take them down again in January.  Christmas is not always an easy time of year and we’re delighted to be able to bring a little festive cheer to people’s lives!

Attention now turns to 2020 and plans are in place to improve the service offered by Care & Repair. We plan to expand our network of community partners and build our volunteer teams to increase the number of people who can access the service. We also plan to improve the extent to which we can support the people we come into contact with beyond the DIY job they request. We will forge closer relationships with other organisations so that together we can offer people a package of supports that can improve their quality of life.  

None of this would be possible without the dedicated support of our staff, volunteers and community partners. Their commitment and compassion continue to inspire and we look forward to their continued support in 2020. 

Jan 9, 2020

Inspiring Positive Change through Digital Literacy

Inspiring positive change through digital literacy Exclusion, isolation and discrimination: these are words that can conjure up issues that minority groups might face, such as inequality and unfairness. While these issues unfortunately do very often affect minority groups, they are also affecting a large portion of our older citizens who have not had the opportunity to engage in meaningful digital literacy education, writes Jennifer Glansford.

Digital Literacy

The definition of ‘digital literacy’ today includes being able to use simple, every day, technology to communicate and handle information. A generation of older people is being left behind as an increasingly online Ireland fails to support and empower older people to properly participate in our society as digital citizens. Half of Irish people aged between 65 and 74 have never use the internet.  The National Digital Strategy describes internet use among those aged over 75 as negligible.

A move to online services creates barriers for many older people who are unable to carry out their day-to-day business online or are wary of doing so. Government services are also actively encouraging people to make their tax returns and apply to renew their driving licences and passports online.  Advantages of going online For older people who do get online, it has the potential to change their lives. They can discover new hobbies, meet new people, access services more quickly and keep in touch with family. Use of the internet has proven potential to deliver positive social and health related outcomes for older people, not least decreased feelings of loneliness and isolation

Role of the Getting Started Programme

Age Action’s Getting Started Programme aims to provide this opportunity to as many people as possible throughout the country. The uniqueness of the Getting Started Programme is that, in the main, we provide 10 hours of basic digital literacy skills in local venues on a one-to-one student/ tutor basis. This method has proven to be very effective as it enables people with fear and anxiety about learning a new skill (which can seem very daunting), to go at their own pace with their tutor, learning about subjects and skills that are relevant and useful to them and, most of all, that are beneficial to them in combatting exclusion, isolation and discrimination. The Getting Started Programme will have trained 2,950 people in 2019, and we could not do this without the continuing support of all our volunteer tutors — wonderful people who are willing to give up their time and share their digital knowledge with older people who are keen to get to grips with the nuances of the digital world. Tutors from local communities, transition year students and corporate volunteers support the programme and create a fun, enjoyable and relaxing learning environment where people can bring along their own devices, or use devices at the library, school, community centre or corporate offices where classes occur. Volunteers are the backbone of the Getting Started Programme and we are indebted to them all for their support and enthusiasm. 

Our classes

We run classes in every county, and in 2019 the programme has been run in: 42 schools, 39 libraries, 3 Age Action premises, 15 corporates, 8 sheltered housing, 20 community venues. This year we have run a few groups classes with through Polish for Polish Community groups in Dublin and Cork. We have also partnered with Men’s Shed in Adare, Co Limerick and with Limerick County Council for classes in Newcastlewest. In addition, we have run a class as Gaeilge in Ballyvourney, Co Cork. The Getting Started Programme equips people to successfully combat the difficulties that modern life can throw at people if they do not have the skills to be online. Overcoming the fear by having a tutor has proved really helpful for people who want to dip their toe in the digital pond.  Please contact us if you would like more information on our one-to-one classes in your county either for yourself or a relative or friend. Alternatively, if you think you have the skills to teach someone the basics of being online, get in touch with us too and become a part of our Getting Started volunteer army in 2020! 

Jennifer Glansford began volunteering with Age Action in 2011 as an administrator and later that year, was appointed as a Project Officer for the Getting Started Programme. In late 2016, she was appointed to the role of National Development Manager and has continued to promote and grow the programme nationwide, working with a team of six Regional Project Officers.

Links:

 
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