From the early days of the pandemic it became clear that the need for digital connections had increased in importance across all age groups.
Throughout the pandemic we exercised with Joe Wicks, baked lots of banana bread and learnt to love Zoom calls as a replacement for social and work contact. But what of the older generations in our communities? Safe solutions were needed to ensure that MHA’s work on combatting loneliness and isolation were not derailed due to necessary and prolonged periods of separation, from community, friends and family.
At MHA our local teams had not yet fully embraced digital media as a way of showcasing the joys and camaraderie of daily life in our homes and schemes. At short notice we needed to focus on the social benefits of digital technology and look at how we could quickly upskill our workforce, to keep ahead of the changing times and deliver on our promise of helping people to live later life well.
Fast forward to nearly two years from the first lockdown and we have reaped the benefits that digital technology has had on our staff, residents and users of our community and befriending services.
Initially we found a skills gap within our teams and needed to fill that void efficiently and effectively. Our partnership with Barclays was a key part of the solution. Barclays launched their Digital Eagles programme, which provided training to help our workforce adapt to changing communication needs within the confines of a global pandemic.
The Digital Eagles team helped overcome the lack of surety about the value of ‘getting online’ by enhancing the abilities to access digital technologies. This knowledge in turn would help residents and members to appreciate new ways to keep in touch with their loved ones.
In recent months, we have introduced digital software into our care homes, retirement living and community schemes by investing in interactive, motion-activated sensory projection systems, known as Tiny Tablets. The name of this system contradicts the fact that these screens are the size of a large TV and their eye-level stands allow for use whilst still sitting comfortably on your own or in a small group.
This system provides benefits for all residents, but is particularly effective for those living with dementia. The interactive touch screens entertain through improving engagement, concentration and relaxation. Programmes also includes access to online activities, which are exclusively recorded to appeal to our users and their families covering typical hobbies and later life, lifestyle programs.
In addition we’ve had great reaction to the introduction of Familieo, a social media system whereby private family groups can keep in touch and add daily news and photographs, which in turn can be printed out weekly as a resident specific newsletter (Gazette) to read, keep and treasure.
Lastly, we introduced MHA’s much anticipated Digital Communities platform to our residents and members. The activities available range from exercise classes, spirituality, quizzes, crafts, baking and more and is available 24 hours a day.
These systems along with the increased use of Facebook have compensated in times when physical contact has not been possible. The support from the Digital Eagles team has helped MHA ensure that our older generations are still as connected as possible in these ever changing times.
Find out more (opens new window) about Barclay’s Digital Eagles programme.
And, if you found this blog of interest, for more information on housing and technology and the recent TAPPI Inquiry findings can be found on the Housing LIN’s dedicated ‘Technology enabled Care and Housing’ pages.