Friday, 21 February 2014

Helping clients to surf the information superhighway

The aim of Care & Repair is to enable clients to remain safely and independently in their own homes. Part of the service we offer is for caseworkers to visit clients at home - many of whom are socially isolated, live in rural areas or where there is limited public transport. Some find it difficult to get out and about and rely on family and friends for support, and other clients’ families and friends live too far away to be able to offer the support needed. However, many of the things our clients find harder to do can all be done online - shopping, chatting to family and friends, sending and receiving photos.

Not everyone wants to be online! However, often people are unaware of the benefits or just need extra support to get online. Sometimes the cost of getting online can also be a major barrier.

It is important that we as caseworkers help clients to understand how the internet can be relevant in their everyday lives. One way we do this is by explaining how convenient the internet is. Like all my colleagues across Wales, I use an iPad for work as part of the Care & Repair myPad project. This means I can show clients the benefits of using digital technology and explain the importance of being ‘digitally included’. Once clients see how easy the tablets are to use, it breaks down one of the biggest barriers – the fear of using IT.

I explain how money can be saved by shopping online, as many items are cheaper and price comparison websites can help find the best deals. Some of my clients now order their prescriptions online, have shopping delivered, and speak with family and friends. Some have contact with their social and church groups (through Skype and face time), and use social networking sites to keep in touch and to learn new skills. One client is doing a degree course online, others download reading and audio books, some do their banking online and many enjoy games and puzzles.

The majority of these new skills also improve the client’s self-esteem, confidence and wellbeing, and ultimately help to reduce a feeling of social isolation.

Beverley Evans
Caseworker, Blaenau Gwent Care & Repair 

Watch our video for Care & Repair Week here. Helping nannies and grampies all over Wales!

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