Digital technology has helped reduce isolation among elderly Hartlepool residents’ after a grant from the Big Lottery Fund.
The £10,000 grant funded a year-long project at Queens Meadow Care Home, on Stockton Road.
In this digital technology scheme, money was used to purchase tablet computers and pay for tutors to teach the residents how to use them.
Over the past year, they have been able to keep in touch with relatives over the internet, explore local history and their family trees, take and share photos and video, among a wide variety other activities.
Regular tutoring sessions helped develop residents’ abilities and knowledge of the devices, showing them new features and helping foster engagement.
A showcase event was recently held at the care home, where residents demonstrated their new-found skills and celebrated the achievements of the past 12 months with staff and others involved in the project.
Julie Armstrong, home manager, said: “The project has been a great success.
“It has given residents not just a window into the wider world but a chance to interact with it as well, helping them to stay connected and continue their personal learning and development.
“We’ve seen people who were withdrawn due to their dementia really come out of their shells and talk about their lives, as well as their likes and dislikes, which has been great.”
The project was run in conjunction with Equal Arts, a charity promoting creative activities for older people.
Paul Murray, group facilitator from Equal Arts, said: “We’ve used the tablets for many projects, one of the favourites has been to prompt reminiscence sessions.
“We’ve looked at where residents used to live and work using Google maps street view. In some cases, residents have discovered how much they have in common after seeing that they were near neighbours and attended the same school.”
“We’ve held craft activities by watching how-to videos on YouTube and then undertaking an activity based on these. We’re currently learning how to take photos and make videos using the tablets, much to everyone’s enjoyment.”
Queens Meadow Care Home and Equal Arts have applied to the Big Lottery Fund to extend the project for another year.
Further funding would be used to extend residents knowledge and skills with digital technology, using communications software and social media to communicate with friends and family.