Elderly internet project nominated for national award

A scheme to make the internet more accessible to older people has been shortlisted for national honours.

Tuesday, 6th February 2018, 2:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th February 2018, 6:23 pm
Sheltered accommodation residents on one of the taster sessions

West Lancs Council been nominated in the outstanding approach to promoting digital inclusion category for the UK Housing Awards 2018 after installing Wi-Fi in all its sheltered accommodation schemes. The winner will be announced in May.

Council staff have also been carrying out internet taster sessions with the residents, using a tablet device and the services they can access online.

Some of the older people had never used or even held a device, but the sessions proved popular and one resident enjoyed it so much he said he would go out and buy his own tablet.

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Each scheme has also been scheduled a taster session and offered courses through Lancashire Adult Learning in the comfort of their own communal lounge.

The Wi-Fi and taster sessions are part of the Council’s Digital Inclusion Strategy which aims to increase the proportion of residents in the borough who have basic online skills and access to the internet.

Age UK statistics show 47 per cent of people aged between 65 and 87 have never been online. Surveys were carried out in the sheltered accommodation and residents were very keen to have the Wi-Fi connection.

Coun Jenny Forshaw, portfolio holder for Housing and Landlord Services, said: “The council is delighted to have been nominated for this national award as it highlights the importance of the work we have been doing. More and more services provided by private and public sector bodies are moving totally online, or can be cheaper if they are accessed online. Some older people may be more capable of using online services than younger generations, but there are many who will be vulnerable to these changes and it is vital they are not left behind.”