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TESSA NEWTON: THE DIGITAL DILEMMA

How to help carers get online, build skills and get connected.

Many of our carers struggle to find the time to focus on themselves and build new skills and this can be particularly challenging when staying connected. We talked to Tessa Newton, Operations Director at Age UK Islington, about the experience of some of our carers in “getting digital”.

In October Tessa met with a group of carers who regularly attend Islington Carers Hub Carers Pathway meeting (which happens every 2 months as an opportunity for carers to get together and learn more about the support available to them). “This was a particularly interesting session,” explains Tessa, “as we wanted to focus on how our carers were using technology to stay connected in their caring role. We know that one of the key challenges for our carers is keeping connected with their wider friends and family when faced with the demands of their caring role and as Islington Carers Hub we were interested to find out what was working for our carers and to share that knowledge.”

One carer arrived and was straight on her tablet looking at the agenda for the meeting, but many carers still prefer to be contacted by post and lack the confidence and skills to use email, smartphones and tablets. The idea of the session was to hear from a range of carers about what had worked for them and to use this as a starting point for inspiring other carers.

Tessa Newton.
Tessa Newton.

“One of our carers talked us through her personal experience. She had a basic phone to make calls but she knew from talking to her family that there was so much more out there, but she just didn’t know where to begin and had been worried about shelling out money for an expensive smart phone that she just wouldn’t use.” Other carers fed back that they would like to sign up for a course but just couldn’t commit to a regular weekly slot as their caring role was so unpredictable.

“Another carer piped up that she had been in exactly the same position and with a bit of a push from her family and a hand me down mobile from her nephew she had found some free support sessions to attend through the Discovery Centre in Angel (details in the box below). This has proved exactly the solution she needed as the sessions were short and at various times of the day and days of the week so she was able to pop in over a number of months and fit this around her caring role. Most importantly the sessions were free and flexible so she didn’t need to worry about cancelling if her son needed support”.

TECH SUPPORT

Whether you are an old hand at online or fresh out of the technology box, there’s a lot of great help at hand to support you in getting connected:

The Discovery Centre
8-9 Upper Street, N1 0PQ
(step free access to building through 3 mobile shop)
Offering free session to learn about, use and discover what a phone or tablet can do. There are over 30 different sessions, ranging from “basics” through to more detailed and specialist sessions. Don’t worry if you don’t have a phone or tablet, you can borrow one to use during the session and you don’t need to be a 3 mobile customer.

For carers over 50, Age UK Islington runs a number of IT drop-ins:

Almeida Theatre Coffee Morning with IT Support
Almeida Street, N1 1TA
11am-12.30pm

The Coronet IT Help
338-346 Holloway Road, N7 6NJ
5.15-7pm

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