Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA May-Jun 2013 Contents As the Australian Government rolls out the National
Broadband Network to support an expanding range
of digital services and products, older people are
at risk of being left behind. A recent Australian
Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) report
shows that only 56 per cent of people aged 65 and over are using
the Internet, compared to 90 per cent for all other age groups. More
worrying is that up to 50 per cent of people aged 65 years and over
report that their Internet skill level is 'well below average'.
Seeking to address this imbalance, in March 2012,
Brotherhood commenced its 'iPad Essentials' training course for
packaged care clients living in Rosebud and Frankston. Taking
advantage of the explosion in mobile tablets like the iPad and
Samsung Galaxy, the course was designed to introduce clients to
popular internet-based communications while accommodating
people's individual training needs and learning styles.
Brotherhood paid for an IT trainer and assistant and recruited
three volunteers as IT companions to ensure a 1:3 ratio of
trainers to learners. The class size was 10 -- 12 participants and
it was delivered over a period of 15 weeks with 30 hours of class
time and 230 hours of home study and practice. Transport and
personal care support enabled housebound clients to attend and
over 24 clients completed the course. Course participants learned
a lot; so did the Brotherhood staff.
BARRIERS TO CONNECTING
Many pensioners struggle to meet the costs of even the cheapest
broadband service. Mary, a pensioner living alone, struggled to
find $30 a month for broadband costs and contemplated selling
her old ex-government car.
And because connecting to broadband is a complex task for
novices, Brotherhood staff devoted considerable time to assessing
Internet bundled packages and organising affordable broadband plans.
For clients in electric wheelchairs or with poor fine motor skills, an
ergonomic assessment was also critical. Annette, a participant with
Multiple Sclerosis who had a tremor in her hands, kept knocking over
the iPad stand or swishing between pages. The ergonomic assessment
recommended a more stable upright stand and use of a stylus pen.
She uses it all the time now and it has made a big difference to her life.
Over the 15 week course, the trainer paid particular attention to
the preferred individual learning styles of participants, whether
it was kinaesthetic (touching and doing) auditory (listening and
speaking) or visual (seeing and reading).
Joan had difficulty keeping up, so a volunteer sat with her and
gently held her finger. They tapped on the app and moved down
the menu bar to select the right function, over and over again.
This process of kinaesthetic learning was the key to helping
Joan and many others learn how to use the iPad. While no one
has a single style, people do have preferences and applying this
can make learning much easier.
Many participants were housebound and socially isolated and
lacked intellectual stimulation in their daily lives. Stephen already
had a history of depression, anxiety and poor health. His recent
assessment by the Cognitive, Dementia and Memory Service,
showed that his memory was declining.
Since finishing the iPad Essentials course, Stephen says he
feels more connected with his friends and family and has taken
his iPad on a Queensland holiday where he continued to stay in-
touch with his grandkids.
His care manager believes the benefits to Stephen are
"Stephen spends a lot of time on the iPad reading about
current affairs and gardening. He Skypes with his kids on a
weekly basis, and I have noticed his physical and mental health,
and his memory and outlook on life has improved."
Helping older people learn how to use the Internet is a powerful
way of reducing people's social isolation and loneliness. It builds
people's capacity to use their resources, their networks and their
interests to remain socially connected and independent.
Mobile tablets are easy to use with their touch screen
technology, they support people with mobility needs, make
everyday tasks such as shopping and banking easier and they
are light and portable -- great for people to take with them to
hospital, rehabilitation and respite. They are not without their
challenges but these issues can be overcome through good
quality training and support.
The iPad Essentials Program helped older people to learn
new skills, gain knowledge, and importantly build self esteem. As
Mary says; "After 15 weeks I still have a long way to go, but I am
enjoying the journey and can't wait for the next course." n
Michael Hillier is senior manager for social inclusion at
Brotherhood of St Laurence.
Brotherhood of St Laurence's
intensive, tailored training in
the use of tablet technology is
reaping rich rewards for older
people at risk of social isolation,
writes Michael Hillier.
A social experience in learning: in class at the iPad essentials program
30 | MAY--JUNE2013 | AAA
Links Archive AAA Jul-Aug 2013 AAA Mar-Apl 2013 Navigation Previous Page Next Page