DigiPals - Digital Carers Project
Helping carers to connect both virtually and physically through providing training in IT skills. Developing their digital skills so that they can access on-line information and services and use with internet with confidence.
The aim of this project is to improve access to digital education and inclusion for carers across the County, who are not digitally active. VASL employs a part-time Digital Inclusion Officer, who is responsible for identifying, recruiting and training local volunteers (Digipals), who can then provide digital education to carers, to enable carers to confidently use the internet and access information online. The project therefore utilises local volunteers, who themselves develop their own digital skills, and use these to support carers to develop IT/computer literacy.
Throughout the course of this project, over 40 carers have been introduced to the following:
- How to use basic computer, tablet and smartphone devices to get online, surf the internet and communicate with others online
- Using Applications (Apps)
- How to use the internet, including browsers, search engines, email, staying safe on line, banking and shopping
- An introduction for completing forms online, e.g. benefits and welfare, Universal Credit, JSA, gov.uk, applications
- Booking appointments, e.g. with the GP, hospitals and healthcare services
- Social Media – Facebook, Skype, Facetime
Some of the benefits that have been achieved for carers through the project have included:
- Greater carer independence
- Introducing carers to things that can be done from home
- Build carers' confidence
- Reduced isolation and improved ability to connect with others
- Hobbies and interests rekindled or started
- Introductions to using social media
- Improved health and wellbeing and ability to cope with caring responsibilities
Real life Examples of Support
A carer who lived in Greece with her family came back to England to look after her mother who was bed-bound. She cared for her mum for 4 years before her mum died, and then went back to her family in Greece. She had built up some very strong relationships with other carers through VASL's Carers' support group and Carers' choir, including three close friendships. The lady was supported by a volunteer digipal to become more confident in using the computer and tablets, with a view to having regular contact with her friends in England, who she now regularly contacts via email, Facebook and skype.
A Carer had a tablet that she knew little about. Her husband suffers with MS and sits staring out of the window most of the day. He used to work on the Rotherhithe Tugs on the Thames and following some instruction on using the tablet with the carer, he was supported to search the internet for information on the Thames tug boat. Seeing memories of his previous profession gave him real joy as it brought back the memories of a time when he was active. He is now able to use the tablet to find information online regarding his previous hobbies and interests, so he is able to keep up to date with these.