117 seniors, 40 iPads and a man in bright shirts – that was the latest challenge I faced, and one certainly a world away from my former high-flying consultancy life in London.
For almost a year now I have worked for Helping Hand, an SA not-for-profit aged care provider. In my short time here it’s become apparent that not all older people want to sit around playing bingo! Helping Hand challenge the stereotypes of older people – and that’s exactly what led us to running internet workshops for seniors.
Technology presents wonderful opportunities to keep people connected, which is important, because isolation is a big issue facing older people. But they can’t stay connected if they don’t know how. It’s through our work around overcoming isolation that we noticed real synergies with programs being run by Telstra.
With the support of Telstra we ran four workshops over two days where we had over a hundred people eager to learn from the bright-shirt-wearing Gadget Guy, Peter Blasina. With 82% of our participants saying they felt left behind with technology, we knew that we were helping to address a problem in our society.
We had people from their early 60’s through to a 93 year old; some who had never touched a computer before and others that wanted just to keep up with the grandkids.
For our team the best takeouts have been the stories we will continue to share. One couple were able to find a book their son had published for sale online. Others found long-lost ancestors or the farms they grew up on with Google Maps.
But something experienced by everyone was a new awareness of the many varied, wonderful and wacky things the internet has to offer. We know it hasn’t ended when our workshops finished – people left with email accounts to keep in touch and were keen to get home to give everything another go. People also left with the confidence to use the technology that many already have lying idly around at home.
With the support of organisations like Telstra we will continue to challenge the stereotypes surrounding older people – we have been shown that sometimes all they want is someone in a bright coloured shirt to show them that “I’m feeling lucky” on Google, mightn’t mean what they once thought!
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