The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has announced the launch of a new initiative to help older and disabled people get digital skills and reap the benefits of the digital era.
The scheme will see digitally savvy older people open their homes up to be kitted out in the latest technologies, before allowing others to visit and learn first-hand from their peers how to make the most of smart technology to control household appliances, book GP appointments online, contact friends and family by video, and shop online. In short, you can get some free kit, but you have to let Edna and Harold from down the road parade around your home.
“We are committed to improving the digital skills of people of all ages and abilities, so everyone can enjoy the benefits of modern technology,” said Minister for Digital, Margot James. “These innovative projects will not only help some of the hardest to reach people live healthier and happier lives but also boost our mission to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business.”
Funded by the Digital Inclusion Innovation Fund, this scheme will initially receive £400,000 and will be championed in rural West Essex by a partnership led by Uttlesford Council for Voluntary Service.
“Organisations across Essex are backing the Digital Boomers which will see older people redesign their relationship using technology to become even more tech confident and retain their independence for longer,” said Clive Emmett, chief executive of Uttlesford Council for Voluntary Service.
“Thanks to the Digital Inclusion Fund, our exciting Living Smart Homes and Digital Buddies pilots will help us rethink how older people use digital to support their health, wellbeing and independence.”
While some might turn their nose up at this idea, it is very easy to forget the older generations need to be taken forward into the digital economy as well. These are people who in all likelihood weren’t forced into the digital mindset through work or society and therefore need all the assistance possible to make sure they feel the benefits.
The UK government has not necessarily shown itself to be the most forward-thinking in the world, but this is an initiative which we quite like the look of.