Three projects to support older and disabled people through digital technology have been given shares of £400,000 from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s Digital Inclusion Fund.
They will support work on ‘smart homes’, an app for people with Down’s Syndrome and digital tech for end-of-life and palliative patients.
A partnership led by Uttlesford Council for Voluntary Service has received £143,000 for the smart homes project, which will cover rural west Essex and involve training older people as ‘digital boomers’ to help others improve their skills.
They will receive a digital assessment before having their homes kitted out with the technology for purposes such as contacting friends and family online, booking GP appointments and controlling smart appliances. They will then help others improve their skills, while also receiving support from younger ‘digital buddies’.
The Down’s Syndrome Association is leading the development of the app, supported by £141,000 from the fund and which will help people with Down’s to monitor their weight and exercise levels from their smartphones. More than 70% of people with the condition are closed as overweight or obese.
The app will also aim to connect people with a wider community of users to help combat loneliness. Project manager Alex Rawle said it should provide a gateway to further digital information and tools.
Hospicecare trust lead
Under the third project, the Weldmar Hospicecare Trust will explore how the lives of end-of-life and palliative patients can be improved through new technology and skills. It is aimed at developing tech to enable them to report on their health daily, provide consultations and support carers and families.
The project has received £10,000 for research and will get another £50,000 for product design subject to the outcomes of the research.
Caroline Hamblett, chief executive of the trust, said the funding will enable it to extend the reach of the project through software development, possibly in the form of an app for patients to record their symptoms and communicate with clinicians from home.
Minister for Digital Margot James said: “We are committed to improving the digital skills of people of all ages and abilities so everyone can enjoy the benefits of modern technology.
“These innovative projects will not only help some of the hardest to reach people live healthier and happier lives but also boost our mission to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business.”
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