Teachining IT skills to elderly residents could help transform their lives and save Cheshire East Council significant amounts of cash.
That is the view of Councillor Janet Clowes, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for adult social care and integration, who told the borough’s health and wellbeing board on Tuesday that supporting pensioners with the use of technology is ‘something we have to do’.
She spoke about an Audlem woman in her 90s, who had been considering moving into residential care before attending an ‘iTea and Chat’ session – where CEC officers provide skills to elderly residents
Councillor Clowes said: “She could not manage to get the bus to Nantwich and bring back her shopping everyday, but by having an iPad she learned how to order her shopping.
“Once she got used to the tablet she started exploring. She looked at the website for the WI where she was a member, and left a little comment about a flower display.
“People thought she was dead and that was why she had not come. When they realised she was still alive they arranged to pick her up so she could go to meetings again.”
The Conservative member for Wybunbury added that the pensioner was also taught how to keep in touch with her family in Canada online, and benefited from social interaction with the delivery driver who brings her shopping.
“The cost of training and a tablet must be £1,000,” Councillor Clowes added.
“If she had gone into long-term care, the cost to us and the health service could have been phenomenal.”
At Tuesday’s meeting, the health and wellbeing board endorsed a new ‘connected communities’ digital inclusion strategy, which will build on the work that has already been done by CEC and local NHS bodies to support elderly residents with IT over the next two years.