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Reaching out to Older People -Staying Connected

Age Friendly Ireland

Galway City Partnership Logo

Programme: Galway City

WHO Theme: Communication And Information

Health & Wellbeing Theme: Staying Connected

Funding Stream: Community Resilience Fund Covid

Resources Required: Financial, Paid Staff, Acorn Tablets

Cost: 0-500


This initiative allowed for the purchase of Acorn smart tablets which were configured to support internet access needs of older people. Digital adoption is a significant challenge for many older adults and consequently this has limited the effectiveness of the public and commercial sectors that endeavour to serve them. Age related accessibility and design limitations, digital literacy and attitudes to technology are key contributors to this reluctance to embrace digital. As public and commercial services are moving online to increase efficiencies and reduce costs, the digital divide is increasing. Those not connected are becoming more socially and economically isolated. Isolation and loneliness have a proven causal impact on health and wellbeing. The ACORN is a smart tablet based solution, purpose-built to solve this problem through facilitation and simplified digital adoption for senior citizens. It achieves this through age-friendly, accessible design, interactive help tools and content tailored to the user. It offers easy access to the online world of communication and commerce. The company supplying the ACORN tablets provides customisation of each tablet for the user, they add local content and links that are of relevance to each user. Once the links are built in they can be added dynamically i.e. even after the users have received the ACORN. It will update automatically. Due to the high level of restrictions we had to tweak how the project was rolled out. We developed strong relationships with COPE, Galway Contact and Healthy Galway as part of this initiative. A tutor has been engaged to facilitate weekly one hour sessions with 8 partivcipants at a time. Two groups of 8 are already up and running, with a third group of 8 due to start in April. One to one (online) tuition is also provided when the older person needs additional support. Each programme has a practical focus on how to use the technology as well as engaging in art and health and well being initiatives. It is envisaged that all of the participants will progress to further online learning with e.g. GRETB as well as using the tablets for their own personal development. We hope that in time once restrictions allow that each group will be supported to meet in person and celebrate their achievements during this period.

Aim of Initiative

Older people who are not IT literate

Who is it aimed at

Older people who are not IT literate

Steps critical to success

  1. Flexible approach
  2. Listening to the needs of learners
  3. Paced progress dependent on each persons capabilities

Challenges in Planning / Delivery

  1. Levels of restrictions changed a number of times
  2. Difficult to build confidence in online learning online!
  3. Approach to roll out had to change several times

Outcomes / Benefits

  1. Older people have learned IT skills
  2. Improved health and well being among older people
  3. Older people have made new friendships and connections

Evaluation / Report:
As the project is underway we have not carried out a full evaluation yet.

Imelda Gormally, Galway City Partnership,