CASE STUDY: Supporting older people to develop digital skills over a cup of tea
Tech and Tea is an older persons (65 years and older) digital skills project designed to support participants to build their digital skills whilst also offering support and guidance to help them improve their own health and well-being. The programme is delivered in weekly sessions over five weeks by a qualified learning tutor and participants can borrow and purchase affordable tablets to take part in the programme. Participants learn everything from using email, WhatsApp and Zoom on their tablets through to doing an online food shop or online banking.
The Tech and Tea programme is funded by Salford City Council Public Health Team and is delivered through the Age Friendly Salford programme of work managed by local Salford charity: Inspiring Communities Together. Inspiring Communities Together are also active members of the Greater Manchester Digital Inclusion Taskforce and Greater Manchester Digital Inclusion Action Network, which are bringing together organisations to tackle the digital divide across Greater Manchester.
During the peak of the COVID-19 Pandemic when older people were encouraged to stay indoors and avoid external contact, the Tech and Tea programme continued to support residents. In response to the pandemic the service swiftly moved online and via phone call to continue supporting older people to develop the skills needed to enable them to communicate with their loved ones and make new friends safely using tools like Zoom.
What do Tech and Tea service users say?
One participant said: “It’s been fantastic being able to speak to my family while I can’t go and see them, I am using the tablet more, it’s been a bit of a life saver really.”
Another participant said: “It’s been really helpful as I now do internet banking and food shopping, I feel like I still have some independence.”
Bernard is 72 years old and due to his lung condition he has had to spent a lot of the past 18 months isolating at home. He has been unable to do any of his usual day to day tasks and lost all his independence, causing him to become depressed.
Bernard said: “I didn't want to live anymore, it's as simple as that. I woke up in the morning and thought, what can I do today? I can't do anything for myself. It’s just killed me. I didn't have the tech know how to do anything, I just sat here getting worse every day.”
Bernard was referred by the sheltered Housing scheme manager at ForHousing to take part in the Tech and Tea programme online to build his digital skills. Bernard was supported to build his digital skills and gain back his independence. Now, Bernard is able to do his shopping and banking online and keep in touch with his family through regular zoom calls. He also recently became a volunteer wellbeing champion, he now passes on the knowledge he learnt to other older people taking part in the Tech and Tea sessions.
Bernard continued: “What’s happened now is that I do have a purpose in life, and I am now able to help people. There are people out there that are in the same position that I was.”
During year 5 of delivery of the Tech and Tea sessions the following has:
- Supported 500 over 65s in Salford with at least 12 hours of digital skills training
- Recruited and supported 58 people to become volunteer digital champions
- Supported 221 older people to access affordable technology