Older people’s passion for technology to get upgrade for more independent living in Harlow.

Politics / Fri 6th Jul 2018 am31 09:41am

OLDER people’s passion for technology is about to get an upgrade for more independent living, health and wellbeing in Harlow.

A ground-breaking report lifts the lid on how tech-savvy older people are in Essex – except when it comes to their health – and sets out the massive opportunity for the public sector to help local people use technology to live more independently for longer, aiming that by 2021, older people in Essex will be the most tech confident in the world.

The report Digital Boomers – A Theory of change for older people, technology and independent living (www.rethinkpartners.co.uk ) myth-busts many common assumptions about how older people embrace digital and tech. It includes a Theory of Change: a step by step model to enable citizens, families, professionals and organisations to harness new technology at scale.

RETHINK Partners produced the report after being commissioned by Essex County Council to explore the question “How can technology be better used across Essex to promote independent living?” and worked with a group that included local and district councils, NHS, Fire, care delivery organisations and voluntary sector members from across Essex. They pooled their knowledge and set out to discover what may be enabling or hindering technology adoption amongst older people in the county; coupled with extensive face-to-face insight with people from across Essex, as well as an academic literature review by Anglia Ruskin University. The resulting Theory of Change makes six recommendations for collective action for citizens and professionals alike which together should take us closer to our world-leading ambition.

Keir Lynch, CEO of Essex Cares Ltd, one of the partners behind the Digital Boomers work said: “Older people in Essex are more tech savvy than people may think so we need to be more inclusive in our approach. We have an ageing population and we could be supporting people to use technology to live independently for longer. This isn’t about replacing hands on care – this report shows that many older people already have a lot of skills and an appetite and interest to use technology for all sorts of things – the report lays down a challenge to us to provide more opportunities for our staff and citizens to build their confidence.”

Clare Morris, Co-Founder, RETHINK Partners said: “The Digital Boomers report shows that older people and their families are expecting to be able to use tech and digital to maintain their independence for longer. Lots of technology already exists to help with daily living. This work is about how we get older people and professionals as confident and comfortable with this sort of technology as they already are with smart phones, tablets and Facebook. There’s a big opportunity to fill the gap quickly and accelerate the pace of change, and I really think we can lead the charge here in Essex.”

The Digital Boomers report and Theory of Change gives the entire county the blueprint for ensuring the people of Essex lead the way in tech and independent living. A strong forward programme of work is emerging with a wide range of potential programmes to support the Theory of Change, including creating spaces for people to explore and play with tech, and using volunteers with good IT skills to join up with those who are less confident. The outputs of this mobilisation stage will be published in the autumn and RETHINK Partners are asking anyone, be they citizens or professionals to get involved in this work.

Download the full Digital Boomers report at www.rethinkpartners.co.uk

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