This post started with a tweet from @David_Hall reporting on research which stated that 60% of college students demand free wi-fi from their schools bit.ly/Au8kan Obviously higher education in America is a very competitive market but it did make me think about how care homes are responding to the opportunities presented by digital technology.
The excellent Ageing and the use of the internet report from the Nominet Trust @nominettrust suggests that internet use amongst older people is growing. Older people’s reasons for using computers lie in two main areas: social activity and cultural integration. @Chill4usCarers describe internet access as a “window on the world” which I believe is even more important for people in residential care who can become very isolated.
Laing and Buisson list 21,500 care and nursing homes on their database. As I discovered checking theCare Quality Commission site and various online directories there is no easy way of finding out how many care homes provide internet access for residents. A search at FirstStop care homes directory using the keywords “internet access” identified six care homes with computers and internet access. I was particularly interested in access to Skype because it allows older people to keep connected with their family and friends. The Social Care Institute for Excellence @SCIE_socialcare lists the 951 ( SCIE have advised me that the original figure of 286 was incorrect) organisations who were successful in getting a grant from the Get Connected project. [Get Connected was a support programme which enabled providers of care for adults in England to access information and communication technology more effectively. The cost of the programme was £9.1 million.]
It is definitely worth reading the First Survey of Get Connected Grant Recipients from the Institute for Employment Studies (2011). The report gives examples of the ways in which technology is being used to improve the quality of life for residents in care and nursing homes and for individuals receiving domiciliary care services. It also mentions the benefits for staff as the technology has improved access to online training and information.
“ Residents reported being able to look at websites to do with their interests and hobbies, use internet shopping sites and communicate with family members, often overseas. Some had already noted beneficial impact on their carer’s ability to help manage their condition.”
The SCIE report makes a powerful case for the value of technology in care homes and also highlights the issues for staff unfamiliar with purchasing IT equipment. If I was looking for a care home I would want to know if they provided internet access and how they were using digital technology to enhance the lives of their residents.
An interesting comment that “ there is some indication that IT companies had increased their prices once applicants found out they had been successful. ” One of the consequences of government funded programmes?
Somewhat ambitiously I thought it would be interesting to find out how many care homes and supported housing schemes provided free wi-fi & Skype access. However @clarkmike helpfully pointed out the approaches and services offered to a ‘resident’ of a care home and a ‘tenant’ of extra care are different so at the moment I am limiting my search to care homes. As you will see from the Twitter conversation below I have asked various organisations for help in finding out how many care homes provide wi-fi and Skype access for residents. I will update this post when more information is available but at the moment there does seem to be a real information gap in this area.
The Twitter Conversation and thanks for all the RTs!
@rorysreivers At a guess, none.
johnpopham no. But I’d be interested. Expect it’s minimal
@TheMarkSadler complete guess wi-fi provided in around 1,000 care homes max. out of almost 19,000 care homes for the elderly.
@TheMarkSadler Perhaps Laing & Buisson ? If no they should know!
@shirleyayres @CareQualityComm Can you help? I want to find out how many care homes/supported housing schemes provide free wi-fi & Skype access. #ukcare