Last week I asked the question "Should all care homes provide internet access for residents?"
This post started with a tweet from @David_Hall reporting on research which stated that 60% of college students demand free wi-fi from their schools.bit.ly/Au8kan Obviously higher education in America is a very competitive market but it did make me think about how care homes are responding to the opportunities presented by digital technology.
The excellent Ageing and the use of the internet report from the Nominet Trust @nominettrust suggests that internet use amongst older people is growing. Older people’s reasons for using computers lie in two main areas: social activity and cultural integration. @Chill4usCarers describe internet access as a “window on the world” which I believe is even more important for people in residential care who can become very isolated.
Laing and Buisson list 21,500 care and nursing homes on their database. As I discovered checking theCare Quality Commission site and various online directories there is no easy way of finding out how many care homes provide internet access for residents. A search at FirstStop care homes directory using the keywords “internet access” identified six care homes with computers and internet access. I was particularly interested in access to Skype because it allows older people to keep connected with their family and friends. The Social Care Institute for Excellence @SCIE_socialcare lists the 951 ( SCIE have advised me that the original figure of 286 was incorrect) organisations who were successful in getting a grant from the Get Connected project. [Get Connected was a support programme which enabled providers of care for adults in England to access information and communication technology more effectively. The cost of the programme was £9.1 million.]
It is definitely worth reading the First Survey of Get Connected Grant Recipients from the Institute for Employment Studies (2011). The report gives examples of the ways in which technology is being used to improve the quality of life for residents in care and nursing homes and for individuals receiving domiciliary care services. It also mentions the benefits for staff as the technology has improved access to online training and information.
“ Residents reported being able to look at websites to do with their interests and hobbies, use internet shopping sites and communicate with family members, often overseas. Some had already noted beneficial impact on their carer’s ability to help manage their condition.”
The SCIE report makes a powerful case for the value of technology in care homes and also highlights the issues for staff unfamiliar with purchasing IT equipment. If I was looking for a care home I would want to know if they provided internet access and how they were using digital technology to enhance the lives of their residents.
An interesting comment that “ there is some indication that IT companies had increased their prices once applicants found out they had been successful. ” One of the consequences of government funded programmes?
Somewhat ambitiously I thought it would be interesting to find
out how many care homes and supported housing schemes provided
free wi-fi & Skype access. However @clarkmike helpfully pointed out
the approaches and services offered to a ‘resident’ of a care
home and a ‘tenant’ of extra care are different so at the moment
I am limiting my search to care homes. As you will see from the
Twitter conversation below I have asked various organisations for
help in finding out how many care homes provide wi-fi and Skype
access for residents. I will update this post when more
information is available but at the moment there does seem to be
a real information gap in this area.
This has generated a lot of debate across social media channels with some people expressing surprise that all care homes are not connected and I have been provided with some excellent case studies about the benefits of older people in care homes using the internet. DropBy has so much potential to connect people through technology. At the moment we do not know how many care homes encourage residents to use the internet.
I would be interested in members views.
Dear Official Partner,
Thank you for signing up to Race Online 2012!
With your help, we can make the UK one of the first developed countries in the world to achieve near-total internet use by 2012.
The aims of this campaign are achievable and offer a
landmark opportunity for the 10 million people in the UK who have
never even used the internet, particularly the 4 million of those
who are also socially and economically excluded.
Lack of motivation, access and skills are the key reasons why people don’t get online.
Inspiring people and nudging them towards trying the internet for the first time is vital.
By signing up, you have already made a vital contribution.
Once again, thanks to you and your organisation for becoming a Race Online 2012 Official Partner.
The Race Online 2012 team
See our commitment at the Race Online website