A group of local authorities and community groups are to set up digital health hubs in public areas along the lines of one that has been piloted in Nailsea in the South-West.
NHS Digital has said that five new hubs are to be launched as part of the NHS’s Widening Digital Participation Programme, which is supporting a group of pathfinder projects to help excluded people use technology for healthcare.
The second wave of hubs will be in Blackburn with Darwen Library, Staffordshire Refugee Centre, community centres in Saltburn and Birkenhead and the Grenfell victims support centre in north-west London.
Each will involve the creation of an environment to help people learn more about their health, and whatever else they need at that moment, through digital technology.
The Nailsea project is a partnership between local NHS services, Nailsea Town Council and the Healthwatch group and is supported by local volunteers who provide one-to-one support.
65 High Street, known as Nailsea Place, has so far engaged 1,340 people including those with dementia, diabetes, autism or acting as young carers. It has provided assistance in ways such contacting friends and family over Skype, ordering repeat prescriptions and choosing a preferred hospital provider for a surgery or appointment.
Ian Morrell, development manager at Nailsea Town Council said: “The digital revolution has created disadvantages which did not previously exist, and many people feel excluded and left behind. At No. 65, we have aimed to build trust with the local community, and provide one-to-one support, introducing people to technology in an accessible way so they can see the benefits digital can provide.
Need for support
“When people come to us for help with technology, the first thing we do is find out what they need - so we are providing a service that is led by users, and which ensures they get what they want from the support we can offer.”
NHS Digital is running 20 digital inclusion pathfinders across the country in partnership with the charity Good Things Foundation to test new ways to help people access digital tools to improve their health.
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