Residents at a local care home for older people, Carlingwark House, are able to keep in touch with their relatives and learn new skills, after receiving a donation of computer equipment from Winifred Kennedy Trust.
Carlingwark House supports 30 people in Castle Douglas, who live with dementia and age-related needs. It also provides day care to older people from across the local community. The home is part of the national social care charity, Community Integrated Care.
It applied for the donation from Winnifred Kennedy Trust, a local grant making body that supports community groups, after identifying that providing dedicated internet access for residents could enable them to stay connected and enjoy more interactive reminiscence sessions. The grant purchased a new computer, which can be used by all residents.
A recent national survey of care homes for older people found that a lack of IT access is a major issue, with only 1/5th providing their residents with internet access. Nationally, 73% of women and 59% of men, aged over 70, have never been online. This lack of internet access marginalises many older people – depriving them of the opportunities to develop new skills and enjoy the experiences that come with being online. By purchasing this equipment, Carlingwark has been able to support its residents to overcome the ‘digital divide’ that excludes many older people.
The ability to surf the internet has transformed the lives of residents. Many now enjoy catching up online with relatives who live outside of Castle Douglas, using Skype and email. Residents also enjoy following the news, visiting websites related to their hobbies and interests, and reminiscing about important events in their lives, online. They are supported to use the computer by staff members, and many have quickly developed IT skills.
Mandy Kennedy, Day Care Support Worker at Carlingwark House, secured the grant. She says: “The new computer equipment is proving very popular with residents. It has enabled them to enjoy their hobbies, be reminded of things that were important to them in the past, and stay in touch with the people and things that matter to them now.”
Mandy continues, “Many residents have been in touch with relatives who live in different countries, using Skype. Others, who were born outside of Castle Douglas, have been able to revisit online the places they grew up – using tools like Google Street View. This project has showed how the internet can benefit everyone, and that you are never too old to try new things. I’d like to thank the Winnifred Kennedy Trust for the kind donation that has made this all possible.”
Leicester born resident, Graham Shepherd, says: “The new computer has been fantastic. I’ve been supported to find many things online that bring back happy memories to me. Recently, I enjoyed a virtual tour of my favourite rugby club, Leicester Tigers; it was such a thrill to see the stadium again. Being able to access the internet has made a big difference to my life.”
Iain Howie, member of the Winifred Kennedy Trust and Regional Ambassador for Age Scotland, says: “The Trust was keen to support this project. We hope that the donation will help residents to find new interests, as well as keep in touch with their family members. We wish the residents at Carlingwark House all the very best with their new online experiences.”