Digital drop-in sessions for elderly Lanarkshire residents is a success

Four local elected members recently visited the tenants at the Lorne Garden retirement complex in Salsburgh to hear about their receiving brand new iPads, thanks to a project developed through North Lanarkshire Council.

The initiative, which has been funded through Connecting Scotland, saw the council being awarded with 200 devices and MiFi boxes to support the project.

The project was in partnership with the council’s Housing Solutions, service integrator partner Agilisys and Digital NL’s Driving Digital Locally campaign.

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And the devices were allocated to retirement complexes throughout North Lanarkshire.

The weekly drop-in sessions are run by the council’s retirement officer Audrey Johnstone, who also acts as a digital champion to the elderly residents.

She told Lanarkshire Live: “We run the sessions every Tuesday in our communal area. They get a tea, coffee and a biscuit – it is going really well.

“We have about six or seven tenants coming each week and we have set up a buddy system, and they are learning to share their skills.

“You don’t have to be a digital expert; we are building up a relationship to increase their confidence and help them use their device.”

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One tenant who attends regularly and has received a new iPad is Nina Laird.

She had limited skills using her old laptop and said: “I have family in Australia and used my laptop to Skype them, but since I have attended this weekly session, I have been practicing my facetiming skills on my neighbors and I am able to facetime and send messages to family on my ipad.”

And Nina is not alone; her neighbor John Bergin is also enjoying his new iPad and said: “There is no pharmacy in Salsburgh, with the help of Audrey, I registered with my GP online and now order my prescriptions online and they are delivered to my house, which is a great help to me.”

Another visitor to the session is tenant Janette Carson, who loves to shop and loves her new iPad.

She said: “I come along every week to the session and enjoy sharing my skills with my neighbors showing them how to download games and other apps.

“I also have two grandchildren who I can now facetime and catch up with them more often.”

Councilor Kenneth Duffy, convener of the Transportation and Digitization Committee, told us: “The aim of this program is to give our elderly tenants the ability to connect with their friends and family on a regular basis and improve their happiness and overall wellbeing.

“As more and more services are going online, its vital that everyone has access to these services and therefore they need the skills to be able to access them confidently.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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