video-callA great number of elderly people are marked by loneliness, mainly because of their children living in distant places. In this case, telephone has always been a consolation for them in order to communicate directly with their beloving ones. The advancement of digital technologies has brought a new dimension in the communication of the seniors, since they can combine voice and video calls with digital tools that can be easily used by them.

Even thought that sounds as a magnificent idea for older people to keep in touch with their family and friends, the problem is that most of them are unfamiliar with new technologies and are afraid of using them. Furthermore, many of the senior houses or hospitals are lacking an internet access, which is necessary for making a voice and video call. Setting up a video call station for the elderly is very easy and requires a computer and a webcamera, either a tablet or a smartphone, and an internet connection. Skype or Google Hangout are nice and very easy digital tools to use, combining voice and video calls. In the market there are a lot of free applications that support voice and video calls.

But why seniors need the video to contact with their family? Apart from a more direct way of communication, video is considered as an extremely useful application especially for elderly that face hearing problems. Video calls benefit, as they can utilize the facial expressions and body language – lost in a basic phone call – to enhance communication. For instance reading lips can help improve understanding among seniors, when they can’t hear well.

In voice and video calls, seniors can watch their grandchildren to snuff off the candles in the birthday cake, sing christmas carols with all the family, and generally share a special moment with loved ones. Video calls also give the chance for communication and peer learning among the elderly, who have the opportunity to exercise their digital skills and feel active.

In conclusion, technology should be considered as a helpmate rather than as an enemy for seniors. Particularly, the voice and video applications is the easiest way to keep the elderly updated and activated in digital world.

Author: Theofili Smprini

In a world where information and communications technology (ICT), and in particular the internet, are transforming the way we communicate, learn and work, thousands of independent sector social care services for adults in England – many of them small, private or voluntary sector organisations – do not have access to high-quality internet or digital technology. This means their users and staff are at a disadvantage in terms of access to training and development, knowledge gathering and full participation in the support networks available online. In 2010, the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) commissioned  the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) and the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) to undertake a study into the impact of the Get Connected Investment Project. It was established by the Department of Health aimed to enable care providers to improve access for service users, carers, visitors and staff to ICT so they can use the power of the internet to communicate, learn and train.

The evaluation included two rounds of surveys, conducted online, with emails being sent to the main contacts. These were mainly managers or owner/managers, but in some cases were individuals in roles such as activities co-ordinators or administrators. In addition, these lead contacts were asked to forward emails containing survey links to their staff and, where they felt it appropriate, to their service users. The evaluation also included in-depth research at twenty case study sites, each of which was contacted twice by members of the evaluation team, with each round of interviews taking place following each of the two survey rounds. To read more on the survey, please, visit NIACE’s website.

One of the good practices providers presented is Social Care Institute of Excellence with a vast collection of easily understandable good practices that are transferable sustainable and accessible. Such a practice is ‘Carer Aware: Online training course and information resource for carers’, an e-learning course designed to meet the needs of carers. Dudley MBC has designated local libraries as Carer information points and developed free online training for staff and carers. Dudley consulted with carers and staff to develop these resources which have widespread approval.

This is an online resource available to all carers of people with a long term illness or a disability or who are older and frail, staff,  employers and members of the public who wish to know about carers and how they can be supported in the Borough. The online course has also been used to train staff in the 13 libraries across the Borough. Carers were included from the start in the development of the material. Carers were sceptical about the fact that this is an e-resource and not everyone has a PC but it was emphasized that this material can be accessed in public access computers, by other people on their behalf and can be delivered as face to face (blended) learning. The online course was developed, trialled and is now live which is linked to a Carer Aware accreditation scheme.

Carers and staff  were involved at each stage of development through being given access  to an e-demonstration site. They commented on style, format, ease of use, accessibility and usefulness of information.

To read more, please visit: UK Good Practice Collection

References:
Kirsti Ala-Mutka: Mapping Digital Competence:Towards a Conceptual Understanding; JRC67075 –  2011
UK Good Practice Collection
Developing Skills for Carers
Alistair Lockhart-Smith, Fiona Aldridge, Helen Plant, Helen Stevens, Joy Oakley, Linda Miller, Ljaja Sterland, Lorraine Casey, Tom Higgins: : Get Connected – Impact Evaluation

Author: Eva Suba