Charity projects net £400,000 in digital inclusion funding

The government’s Digital Inclusion Fund is backing the development of ‘smart homes’ for the elderly, an app to combat obesity and video consultations in palliative care.

Joe Lepper | 7th Jan 19
Image of elderly hands a keyboard representing digital inclusion for old people

Three charity projects are to share £400,000 in government funding to help boost the digital skills of the elderly, disabled people and patients receiving end of life care.

This includes a ‘smart homes’ scheme in rural West Essex that will see digitally savvy older people have their homes kitted out in the latest tech and be trained to become ‘digital boomers’ to help others improve their digital skills.

Through this Uttlesford Council for Voluntary Service led scheme digital boomers will open up their homes to other older people to give them a first hand look at how they can make the most of smart technology in areas such as controlling household appliances and contacting friends and family by video.

‘Digital buddies’ will also be on hand through the scheme to offer further tech support.

Clive Emmett, Uttllesford Council for Voluntary Services Chief Executive said: “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.”

Funding to support vulnerable groups

The scheme is one of three to have been handed money through the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s Digital Inclusion Fund to support vulnerable groups.

Also awarded funding is the Down’s Syndrome Association, which will create a ‘Health Swap’ app to help combat obesity among those with Down’s Syndrome. The app will allow users to monitor their weight and exercise levels and also aims to connect people with a wider community to tackle loneliness.

More than 70% of those with Down’s Syndrome are classified as being overweight or obese.

Alex Rawle, Downs Syndrome Active Project Manager, said: “The app will encourage its users to live healthier and more active lives and will be a gateway to a world of further digital information and tools.”

Dorset based Weldmar Hospicecare Trust also shares the funding, to explore how technology can improve end of life and palliative care. This aims to allow users to report their health on a daily basis and request video consultations.

“With this funding we aim to test the possibility to extend the reach of this project through software development, possibly in the form of an app which will allow patients to record their symptoms and communicate with their clinicians from the comfort of their own home,” said Caroline Hamblett, the trust’s Chief Executive.

Margot James, Minister for Digital, added: “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 businesses.”