Independent Arts, a local Isle of Wight charity, has trialled a new digital project aiming to reduce isolation for those living in residential care, cut off from their friends and families during the Covid-19 pandemic.
InTouch2 tackles one of the biggest ongoing tragedies to emerge from the scourge of the pandemic. Locked away and shielding in care homes, some of the most frail and vulnerable in our community have had to endure months of isolation, shut out from the world around them and from the friends and families they love.
The challenge for the charity was how to reach this group and how to get them learning, engaged and tech savvy enough to use these devices independently.
Simple straightforward learning aids
Nic Ward, Independent Arts Programmes Coordinator, who has led the pilot, explains:
“After consulting with the Island care homes, we knew we needed to start with simple straightforward learning aids.
“With the help of two key practitioners (artist Trudie Wilson and tech practitioner Mark Lloyd) I oversaw the design of filmed, easy view guides which we uploaded to the pilot iPads.
“We then created sets of highly visual easy to follow laminated guides to accompany the films as a back-up.”
Running in three care homes
The project is now up and running in three Island care homes: Seven Gables, Totland, Tile House, Shanklin and Newport Residential and the early signs are really promising.
“It was really exciting to discover that one of our project learners was planning to use the iPad to speak with his brother in South Africa via Skype on Christmas Day.
“To think we have helped to connect loved ones across continents at such a difficult time was the best Christmas news I could have ever wished for, and our homes’ digital champions have been essential helping to make all this happen.”
Funding bid to upscale
Independent Arts is now seeking funding to upscale the project to involve more Island care homes in this life-enhancing programme.
The charity has partnered with Age UK, the NHS and others on the Island to develop an Island wide digital strategy aimed at improving digital literacy and user confidence in the older community and has begun knowledge sharing with the 3Ts digital project in West Wight.
“We needed this … It is fantastic”
Nic Ward wanted a final word to come from the Activities Coordinator at Tile House:
“I love the idea of making the iPads accessible. Friends and family that used to come used to interact with all the residents and were like one big family. Some of them would be visiting someone, but other residents or staff might join them and everyone would benefit.
“The friends and loved ones were very much part of the home, which was so very social and they are no longer able to come. Coming up to Christmas this project was awesome!
“We needed this. This will really help with residents’ mental health and wellbeing. It is fantastic.”
Independent Arts is a charity using the arts to improve health and wellbeing. For more information please visit the Website.
News shared by Nic on behalf of Independent Arts, in their own words, Ed