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 +# Introduction to main report ​
 +
 +*This report was completed early in 2013 for the Nominet Trust,
 +following the open exploration described here.*
 +
 +## Exploring the potential of digital technology in later life 
 +
 +This paper explores how we can use and develop digital technologies to
 +prepare for and enjoy later life. It brings together past research, and
 +the results of a wide-ranging process to gather experience and ideas
 +from those in the field, undertaken through a workshop and online
 +discussion. We hope the paper and background resources will be useful to
 +anyone seeking to develop projects, and also help those working in the
 +field to see what others are doing. One of the key finding from our
 +exploration was that thinkers, those in support services, and the
 +technically adept were not well connected. We hope this paper will help
 +create some shared understanding.
 +
 +We have used the term digital technology later in life rather than
 +simply older people using digital technology because a strong
 +messages is that older isnt a very useful perspective on its own. The
 +ways that people from 55 to 90-plus may use technology is very diverse -
 +and has far more to do with their personal interests and circumstances
 +than their age.
 +
 +However, in some ways the lessons in designing and using digital
 +technology are similar to those earlier in life. For example, in
 +comparing our findings with those from the Digital Edge exploration into
 +young people using technology we identified the importance of starting
 +where people are at; co-designing with users; and encouraging
 +peer-to-peer support.
 +
 +Differences in the use of technology in later life do, of course, arise
 +because as we get older we may be less able mentally or physically; we
 +may have different experiences that inform how we address new learning
 +opportunities,​ and may not have used technology in education or work in
 +ways that are becoming the norm for younger people.
 +
 +We may be unwilling to share personal information and activities with
 +strangers on social networks, be anxious about the security of our
 +data - or simply wary of handling computers and digital devices. There
 +are real barriers and challenges - of which perhaps the greatest is
 +whats the point? And one benefit of age is the wisdom to resist its good
 +for you.
 +
 +So if we do believe that there are benefits in helping people use
 +digital technology later in life, we have to recognise that as we get
 +older we may be different in far more ways than we are the same. We have
 +different life histories, families, friends and interests that we have
 +developed along the way and thats where the opportunities arise, if we
 +are prepared to realise them.
 +
 +Julia Unwin CBE, Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation,
 +writing about Why we must celebrate - not ignore ageing said:
 +
 +-   we need to hear from people who are themselves older, understand
 +    their very different experiences,​ and start to think much more
 +    honestly, and much more creatively, about the ways in which we want
 +    to shape a good old age, both for ourselves as individuals and as
 +    society.
 +-   An ageing society can be one that values difference, and recognises
 +    the very rich and different contribution that we will all be able to
 +    make. An ageing society can be one that uses all the skills,
 +    experience and talents of all of us as we age. It would recognise
 +    that older age is not only about loss, there are rewards and
 +    excitement too. It would therefore be a society that is better for
 +    all of us. It would be one in which frailty is no longer equated
 +    with powerlessness,​ dependence no longer seen as weakness. If we
 +    start to see growing old as an important and natural transition in
 +    our own lives, we will also be able to build a society that makes
 +    this transition in a just, considered and creative way. Such a
 +    society will be able to respond to the changing needs of all parts
 +    of its population, without hiding behind lazy stereotypes and
 +    prejudice. It will structure policies and practice that meet the
 +    needs of real people, not just imagined nightmares.
 +
 +While Julia Unwins analysis is not specifically about the role that
 +technology can play, it sets the tone for the approach that we are
 +advocating here - using later life as a lens through which to review
 +what sort of life any of us would wish for - and the ways in which
 +technology can help.
 +
 +While acknowledging the continuing challenge of digital inclusion -
 +providing online access and support - we are not primarily concerned
 +here with how to achieve government aims to achieve digital by default
 +in the use of public services. We do however look at some of the issues
 +this raises for individuals,​ and hope that insights from the exploration
 +will open additional ways to engage people with digital technology.
 +
 +Nor have we sought to cover the substantial field of telecare, and the
 +means by which technologies can help those of us who are becoming frail
 +remain longer in our homes.
 +
 +The issues of how care services can better use digital technology is the
 +subject of a paper by Shirley Ayres, published by Nominet Trust: Can
 +online innovations enhance social care?
 +
 +The main focus here is on how individuals might best use digital
 +technology later in life; how friends, relatives and others can help;
 +the importance of learning together and how the social uses of
 +technology are particularly valuable.
 +
 +### Technology in Later Life: The good, the bad, the frustrating and the exhilarating ​
 +
 +The forum on Gransnet, set up and summarised by Geraldine Bedell for our
 +exploration,​ brought alive the day to day experience of older people
 +using technology: the good, the bad, the frustrating and the
 +exhilarating. These experiences and the issues they raise have been
 +reviewed in light of wider consultation and future research and are
 +distilled here into 10 provocations that can act as talking points and
 +possibly as a focus for project development and investment. The
 +reference material for each of these is provided for further information
 +and deeper exploration.
 +
 +But provoking new ideas isnt sufficient if we are to develop better
 +ways to support the use of digital technology in later life. There is so
 +much excellent work to build on that in addition to these provocations
 +we have developed some themes that are important to consider in
 +responding to these challenges. Its only a start though. Indeed there
 +are many other themes that could be developed because we found the
 +exploration to be more about technology and life, than technology for
 +older people.
 +
 +[Reference for this introduction and summaries of research findings](/​dtlater/​introduction)
 +
 +### Ten provocations - in summary ​
 +
 +These 10 provocations are developed more fully below, and on other pages
 +with background research. They are the basis for the themes that follow.
 +
 +-   Look at personal needs and interests as well as common motivations -
 +    one digital size wont fit all. While there are general benefits at
 +    any time of life in using digital technology - whether for
 +    entertainment,​ shopping, learning, information - everyone has
 +    different priorities and these will be shaped by life experience and
 +    current circumstances. The best way to engage people is to start
 +    where they are, the particular interests they have developed, and
 +    the personal challenges they face.
 +-   Build on past experience with familiar technology as well as
 +    offering new devices - they may do the job. New devices can be
 +    challenging,​ and recent developments of familiar equipment may offer
 +    an easier route for some. Smart TVs and smartphones may provide
 +    whats needed without learning to use a computer.
 +-   ​Consider the new life skills and access people will need as
 +    technology changes our world - using technology is ceasing to be
 +    optional. Public services are becoming digital by default, and new
 +    opportunities for employment require at least an email address. It
 +    will be important to make the use of digital technology as
 +    accessible and easy as possible - or encourage people to act as
 +    proxies in helping make the connection with the online world.
 +-   Turn the challenge of learning about technology into a new social
 +    opportunity - and make it fun. Learning how to use digital
 +    technology can challenging. It takes time, and having someone to
 +    help can be important. Loneliness and isolation are a big challenge
 +    for some later in life. By getting together so learning becomes a
 +    social experience we can achieve benefits on both fronts, and enjoy
 +    the experience as well.
 +-   See digital technology for later in life as a major market -
 +    co-designing with users could offer wider relevance. On the one hand
 +    people are living and remaining active longer, and on the other hand
 +    facing a wide range of health and social challenges for longer. This
 +    will provide a growing market among older people, and an opportunity
 +    to design and test technologies for relevance and usability with any
 +    users than have diverse interests and capabilities.
 +-   ​Address social isolation and other challenges through a blend of
 +    online and offline - they dont need to be different worlds. Digital
 +    technology can enable virtual friendships that lead to meetings,
 +    support social learning, and underpin projects for new forms of
 +    sharing both on the physical world and online. The greatest benefits
 +    may come from blending face-to-face and online activities.
 +-   ​Enable carers and care services - both for direct use of technology
 +    and to act as proxies. More could be achieved by integrating digital
 +    technology into services, and supporting carers in their use of
 +    technology. This will be increasingly important as older people who
 +    are not connected may require proxy helpers to use online public
 +    services.
 +-   Use digital technologies to enhance existing connections of family
 +    and friends - and help each other learn. Free video calls,
 +    photo-sharing,​ email, texting and the use of social networking sites
 +    are part of day-to-day communications with family and friends for
 +    many people later in life. Family members can help each other learn
 +    about digital technologies.
 +-   Value the role that older people may have in acting as digital
 +    technology champions - and providing long term support. Older people
 +    know the challenges of using technology later in life, and may be
 +    best at providing the continuing support needed for its adoption.
 +    Demonstrations and short courses are seldom enough.
 +-   Look for ideas among those providing digital training and support -
 +    and help them realise them. Those working directly with users of
 +    digital technology will have insights into what works, and where
 +    development would be valuable. With some support they could turn
 +    ideas into projects.
 +
 +### Themes ​
 +
 +These themes aim to draw out some common issues across our 10
 +provocations. Overall theme. Digital technology will be significant for
 +everyone later in life - and a lot of older people may be excluded from
 +the benefits.
 +
 +Most peoples lives are already heavily dependent on technology through
 +the appliances we use, the ways we communicate and engage with banks,
 +shops and public services. That is likely to increase, and the challenge
 +in later life is to make the best use of technology that we can as our
 +circumstances,​ interests and abilities change.
 +
 +Digital technology can certainly bring particular benefits later in
 +life. It can help combat loneliness and social isolation, and provide
 +new opportunities for people to connect, learn, develop new activities,
 +and find a new role in life.
 +
 +In addition, having access to online systems, either personally or
 +through someone who will act as a helper or proxy user, will be
 +essential as public services become digital by default. Because of these
 +potential benefits, and policy imperatives,​ a great deal has been done
 +to encourage and support use of technology under digital inclusion
 +programmes. However, achieving the benefits, and widespread take-up, has
 +not been easy.
 +
 +-   In May 2012 the Communications Consumer Panel, a statutory body
 +    advising Government, reported that 22% of the UK adult population
 +    eleven million people - still do not use the internet at home. In
 +    the Panels view the challenge to increase participation is
 +    underestimated;​ meeting the challenge is underfunded;​ and people who
 +    remain unable to access online services will suffer increasing
 +    detriment if the challenge isn’t met.
 +-   The panel reported that older and disabled people, and those in
 +    low-income households, are much less likely to use the internet at
 +    home. In common with many other industrialised countries, the UK is
 +    experiencing a slow-down, almost a plateau, in Internet take-up
 +
 +### From our exploration we concluded:
 +
 +-   ​Inability or unwillingness to use digital technology may or may not
 +    be a missed opportunity for well-being and enjoyment. However, it
 +    will almost certainly be a problem for those not online, and
 +    government, as public services can increasingly only be accessed
 +    online, or with special assistance.
 +-   Just how technology helps will be different for everyone, because
 +    its use is personal. Seeing someone as older isnt a good enough
 +    perspective through which to understand what will be appropriate.
 +    The mix of life experience and ageing is complex.
 +-   ​Because of this, a lot of older people aren’t using the Internet,
 +    and this is for a variety of reasons. They may not see the see the
 +    benefit, be anxious about the online world, find technology
 +    challenging.
 +-   ​Technology could be made more attractive and easier to use -
 +    particularly if co-designed with older people. What’s needed is
 +    co-design to improve general usability and value, and then help to
 +    apply the benefits of technology in specific circumstances
 +-   ​Computers are only one route online. Tablets, smartphones and
 +    connected televisions offer other options.
 +-   ​One-off demonstrations or courses aren’t enough for the
 +    less-confident. Digital champions among older people can help each
 +    other. Sustaining successful use of digital technology is important
 +    to achieve benefits, and deal with life changes.
 +-   The common lessons that we found for engaging people both early and
 +    later in life are: start where people are at, with their
 +    circumstances and interests; co-design with users; encourage
 +    peer-to-peer learning and support.
 +
 +All of our provocations aim to address these issues - with the first
 +being particularly important: Look at personal needs and interests as
 +well as common motivations - one digital size wont fit all. Here are the
 +main themes and insights that emerged from our exploration.
 +
 +#### Theme 1.
 +
 +Developing personal and community use of digital technology can help us
 +feel valued and valuable Changes in family or employment circumstances,​
 +perhaps coupled with reducing physical or mental capabilities,​ may
 +diminish ones sense of personal value and identity later in life.
 +
 +There may be more time to pursue personal interests, but for some people
 +being able to contribute something to others can also be important.
 +
 +Digital technology can support new social and well as personal interests
 +in this regard.
 +
 +Community and voluntary organisations depend heavily on older people as
 +volunteers, and older people may be willing to participate in innovative
 +approaches to local community building using digital technology, if this
 +is combined with some support. Focussing on how digital technology can
 +enable older people to contribute to their community offers benefits for
 +them, and for their communities.
 +
 +*The first five of our provocations provide ideas that are particularly
 +relevant and expand the ideas in this theme - together with number 8.
 +Start with friends and family.* [Reference for this theme](/​dtlater/​theme_1)
 +
 +#### Theme 2.
 +
 +Changing circumstances and transitions in later life may be times when
 +digital technology is most valuable Change and transitions between
 +different life events provides many challenging times, whether as a
 +result of retirement, health, bereavement,​ re-locating to live with
 +children or moving into a care home. These cross-over geographic and age
 +boundaries, but provide moments where support is most needed to address
 +challenges. Its interesting to note that these moments of transition are
 +also felt by young people - perhaps when homeless, seeking job, becoming
 +a parent. Indeed it may be a key challenge across age groups, though
 +perhaps dealt with differently based upon age, experience and situation.
 +
 +A Nominet Trust research report On the Periphery? into young people who
 +are at points of transition, and not able to connect with and use the
 +online world, provides an in-depth analysis of the issues and peoples
 +preferences and a range of suggestions for support.
 +
 +During our exploration Gransnet, the online network for grandparents,​
 +ran a discussion on peoples greatest concerns about getting old, and how
 +technology can help. Gransnet editor Geraldine Bedell summarised the
 +concerns as Ageism, Poverty/​hardship,​ Loneliness, Health and Care,
 +Uncertainty about roles - with technology being both a concern and
 +offering benefits.
 +
 +The spontaneous contributions to the forum gave a lively picture of
 +peoples day-to-day use of technology, and how this changed as they
 +became older and how it could change their lives for the better.
 +
 +Provocations 1,3,4,6,7 offer some ideas for how to make the best use of
 +digital technology during transitions in life.
 +
 +[Reference for this theme](/​dtlater/​theme_2)
 +
 +#### Theme 3.
 +
 +New and less confident users of digital technology need continuing
 +support An innovative new device, or a one-off course, may not be enough
 +for someone to maintain their use of digital technology - whatever their
 +age. Both research, and discussions with those working in field,
 +confirms the experience we may have when enthusiastically showing, for
 +example, a new website or a smartphone to a new user.
 +
 +The first click-through - or touch through - may be engaging but then it
 +can be difficult to remember the sequence of actions needed, or how to
 +get from one application to another. Even well-structured courses can
 +leave people frustrated if they find that the computer at home does work
 +in the same way, or they dont have a note of what they did. Even if they
 +have a note, it is easy to get lost if you try something different.
 +
 +The Communications Consumer Panel report Bridging the Gap says Ready
 +access to informal, ongoing, one-to-one support is a key driver in not
 +just promoting take up but also, critically, sustaining it.
 +
 +-   This driver often represented the tipping point between lapsing and
 +    developing online participation. Help at the start of the journey
 +    was critical; in getting started with using the computer and setting
 +    up a broadband connection. Ongoing help was equally important to
 +    sustain effort and interest to overcome some of the more significant
 +    barriers to use. People valued one to-one support, particularly from
 +    a friend or relative, and this was often very effective in pushing
 +    them forward to a point where they could start to develop their
 +    online engagement by themselves.
 +
 +The Digital Inclusion Group of the Age Action Alliance has developed the
 +idea of digital champions working at different levels: the formal role
 +of the professional,​ employed to provide help; the informal helper who
 +has a passion for digital technology; and the spontaneous helper who may
 +be friend or family, helping out when needed.
 +
 +There is enormous scope to support those who work with, and help older
 +people - and to explore how digital technology can best support them.
 +These may be proxy users helping older people access the benefits of
 +being online, or carers and front line workers willing to innovate.
 +
 +Provocations 7, 9, and 10 expand on these issues and offer some ideas -
 +particularly in providing continuing support, and training proxy users
 +and those providing care.
 +
 +[Reference for this theme](/​dtlater/​theme_3)
 +
 +#### Theme 4.
 +
 +Better sharing of knowledge, experience and resources could foster
 +innovation There are many research reports, lots of great examples of
 +the use of digital technologies to support people later in life, and
 +plenty of ideas for development. But you can only find them if you know
 +where to look. We came upon relatively few ways in which people in the
 +field were systematically sharing experience outside London-based
 +events.
 +
 +For anyone themselves trying to adopt digital technology later in life -
 +or help someone else - there is little relevant help, unless they can
 +attend a course or other session, and that may not offer follow-through
 +support. Guides and toolkits may not be updated after initial
 +time-limited funding.
 +
 +This means that research continues to confirm earlier findings and
 +conclusions;​ projects re-invent the wheel; funders dont know where to
 +focus, and technology users and helpers are baffled. Some of this is
 +important in development phases: research confirming, and giving greater
 +validity to earlier conclusions;​ locally owned and delivered projects
 +seemingly re-invent from a national scale, but are built on local
 +ownership and enthusiasm. However this is not the only process for
 +creating disciplined innovation.
 +
 +Innovation can arise from joining up as well as inventing, which
 +suggests we need convening for collaboration,​ as well as competition for
 +challenge funding. The Nominet Trust and other agencies run networking
 +events, and there is scope to build on that activity. The main
 +recommendation in the Nominet Trust paper by Shirley Ayres Can online
 +innovations enhance social care? is for a knowledge hub:
 +
 +-   There is a need to explore the potential for developing a Community
 +    Wellbeing and Social Technology Innovation Hub which brings together
 +    all the organisations funding, researching and promoting digital
 +    technology innovations and pilots across the wider care sector. This
 +    could be an independent organisation or a new remit that falls to an
 +    existing one, however it could also be developed from the ground
 +    up in a way that takes advantage of the very technology that it
 +    reports on. By supporting practitioners,​ researchers,​ funders and
 +    policy makers to share resources in ways that makes them highly
 +    discoverable,​ we could begin, now, to create this useful hub of
 +    knowledge.
 +
 +We followed up with a blog post linking this to the idea of developing
 +social ecologies of conversations and connections,​ promoted by Steve
 +Dale, one of the dtlater team. The Age Action Alliance digital inclusion
 +group (AAA DIG) is now mapping the activities and resources of their
 +members, and recommending members to join the discussion we are running
 +on the Social Learning Network. Well be exploring the idea of a
 +knowledge hub in more detail there.
 +
 +The diversity of application and value of digital technology in later
 +life, reflected in our provocations and the related references,
 +highlights how wide-ranging activity and interests are in this field.
 +
 +[Reference for this theme](/​dtalter/​theme_4)
 +
 +#### Theme 5.
 +
 +Co-designing with a clear purpose will improve usability and relevance
 +of digital technology later in life Although its clear that we shouldnt
 +simply use age as a starting point for designing interventions,​ there
 +are some specific usability requirements that become apparent at
 +different life stages. There are already a range of projects, tools and
 +resources that can be useful for people later in life - but the
 +challenge is to ensure they are actually usable and relevant. Working
 +with a range of people of different ages, interests and circumstances
 +should enable us to achieve that in the redesign of existing hardware
 +and software tools, or the create of new products and projects.
 +
 +We expand on these issues in provocations 1,2 3, 5 - and suggest in 10
 +that those who are providing training and support will have many
 +insights and insights that could provide a good starting point.
 +
 +[Reference for this theme](/​dtlater/​theme_5)
 +
 +### Provocations - in detail ​
 +
 +1 - Look at personal needs and interests as well as common motivations -
 +one digital size wont fit all.
 +
 +While there are general benefits at any time of life in using digital
 +technology - whether for entertainment,​ shopping, learning,
 +information - everyone has different priorities and these will be shaped
 +by life experience and current circumstances. The best way to engage
 +people with digital technology is to start where they are, the
 +particular interests they have developed, and the personal challenges
 +they face.
 +
 +Connecting with friends and family, and pursuing personal interests and
 +hobbies are common reasons for using digital technology later in life.
 +In addition theres entertainment,​ savings to be made shopping online,
 +information and discussion about issues of health and finance that may
 +become pressing. Increasingly the Internet will be essential to access
 +public services. Developments of technology for later in life should of
 +course focus on these common motivations,​ with adaptation to address
 +some of the physical and mental challenges of older age. But in all our
 +research and discussions one message came through strongly: digital
 +technology has to be personally relevant, useful, and usable. This is
 +particularly important if people have concerns about privacy, security
 +and a general lack of trust in the unknown.
 +
 +Our initial propositions in the exploration provided some ideas for how
 +to address these issues, for example: understand peoples life stories
 +for the skills, interests and attitudes they may have developed; help
 +people tell their stories, and explore their interests using digital
 +technology; use digital cameras, audio recorders, ebook readers and
 +other devices that dont require a connection; take concerns about
 +security and privacy seriously.
 +
 +*Challenge: How can we help people later in life - and those who may
 +support them - explore what might suit their individual needs?*\
 + [This provocation with comments, resources and links to
 +ideas](/​dtlater/​provocation_1)
 +
 +2 - Build on past experience with familiar technology as well as
 +offering new devices- they may do the job. New devices can be
 +challenging,​ and recent developments of familiar equipment may offer an
 +easier route for some. Smart TVs and smartphones may provide whats
 +needed without learning to use a computer.
 +
 +A number of the research reports - and our discussions - make the point
 +that it may be easier to build on peoples existing use of technology,
 +rather than introduce new devices. For example smart televisions
 +are able to connect to the Internet, and smartphones offer access
 +previously only available through a computer. Photo sharing online may
 +be the natural extension of a past interest in photography,​ or further
 +use for a new phone.
 +
 +Our initial propositions also included the suggestion that in
 +introducing anything new, also consider what friends may be using. Video
 +chats only work if others have the facility; some people among friends
 +and family will favour texting, others email. Peoples skills in
 +adopting new technology may be influenced by past experience - so using
 +a computer keyboard is easier if you have learned to type. If not, a
 +tablet may be less intimidating.
 +
 +While it may be tempting to suggest offering a smartphone to, for
 +example, an older relative, a simpler phone that just offers voice and
 +SMS texting may be more welcome. It is relatively easy to upgrade - but
 +more difficult to help people recover from a potentially bewildering
 +engagement with sophisticated devices.
 +
 +*Challenge: what scope is there for using improvements in existing,
 +familiar technologies to meet people needs in later life as well as
 +offering new devices?* [This provocation with comments, resources and
 +links to ideas](/​dtlater/​provocation_2)\
 +
 +3 - Consider the new life skills and access people will need as
 +technology changes our world - using technology is ceasing to be
 +optional. Public services are becoming digital by default, and new
 +opportunities for employment require at least an email address. It will
 +be important to make the use of digital technology as accessible and
 +easy as possible - or encourage people to act as proxies in helping make
 +the connection with the online world.
 +
 +Technology is changing our world - the devices we use in our homes, the
 +way we shop, the public services that may no longer be available over
 +the counter. The blog posts and forum discussions that we reviewed
 +showed that for many people technology is problematic - but that it also
 +offers opportunities to deal with the challenges of later life.
 +
 +In summarising discussion on a Gransnet forum, editor Geraldine Bedell
 +wrote that she found a mix of attitudes.
 +
 +-   A fear of being left behind by technology. A very strong sense that
 +    tech cant substitute for relationships although it is in politicians
 +    interests to believe it can. A fear of life becoming dependent on
 +    pressing buttons. A sense of tech as being alienating. On the other
 +    hand, a sense of possibilities and hope of being able to keep in
 +    touch with family and friends. A feeling that tech may ameliorate,
 +    even if it cant cure.
 +
 +Government plans to make services digital by default - and access to the
 +new Universal Credit online are raising concerns, and pilots are being
 +developed to explore how to serve those who are not online.
 +
 +Our propositions and discussion highlighted other issues. More people
 +these days are working past retirement age, and moving jobs in the
 +process. Digital skills may be important right at the start of new
 +employment: JobCentrePlus expect people to have email addresses. Bank
 +and post office branches are closing, with the only alternative being a
 +longer journey, or using their online services. Its clear that we need
 +to yield insights into how to design for the intersection of peoples
 +changing needs through life, the personal technologies on offer, and the
 +way technology is changing public and commercial services.
 +
 +*Challenge: how might we chart the challenges and opportunities people
 +may face during later life, in order to inform development and use of
 +digital technology? Can this also be done on an individual basis as part
 +of help and support?* [This provocation with comments, resources and
 +links to ideas](/​dtlater/​provocation_3)
 +
 +4 - Turn the challenge of learning about technology into a new social
 +opportunity - and make it fun. Learning how to use digital technology
 +can be challenging. It takes time, and having someone to help can be
 +important. Loneliness and isolation are a big challenge later in life.
 +By getting together so learning becomes a social experience we can
 +achieve benefits on both fronts, and enjoy the experience as well.
 +
 +The online world can offer new social connections that help combat
 +loneliness and social isolation - but people usually most value some
 +personal contact. Learning about digital technology can be tough on your
 +own - and much research and discussion emphasises the value of learning
 +from each other. The benefits of combining learning and sociability,​ and
 +of learning from peers is well understood.
 +
 +This might be done through a formal session, supported by a tutor - or
 +through an informal social media surgery where those with experience
 +help those completely new to digital technology, or wishing to develop
 +new skills. There is research to support this approach, some provision
 +but also a consensus that more is needed. An added benefit of learning
 +within a group, especially an established peer group, is that the
 +support can be ongoing rather than simply front-loaded.
 +
 +*Challenge: how could more be done to blend formal and informal
 +approaches to make learning about digital technology a social
 +experience, and one that might provide continuing help?* [This
 +provocation with comments, resources and links to
 +ideas](/​dtlater/​provocation_4)
 +
 +5 - See digital technology for later in life as a major market -
 +co-designing with users could offer wider relevance. On the one hand
 +people are living and remaining active longer, and on the other hand
 +facing a wide range of health and social challenges for longer. This
 +will provide a growing market among older people, and an opportunity to
 +design and test technologies for relevance and usability with any users
 +than have diverse interests and capabilities.
 +
 +We are facing a society in which later life will extend
 +considerably. Evidence to a Lords committee predicted that between 2010
 +and 2030 the number of people aged over 65 will increase by 51% and
 +those over 85 will double during the same period. The report Ageing and
 +the use of the Internet says:
 +
 +-   There is an evidence base, supported by demographic data, that
 +    suggests there is a business case for developing more specific and
 +    age-related technology-based products and services. Indeed,
 +    given the current and projected increase in our ageing society not
 +    just in the UK, but globally, the private sector will have a vested
 +    interest in promoting digital literacy amongst what will be a
 +    growing consumer market.
 +
 +The report cites Kohlbacher and Hang, who write that the silver market
 +is an excellent field of application for new market disruptions as
 +elderly customers will increasingly demand new products and services
 +they had not demanded or had not been able to demand before. Our
 +discussions yielded a range of ideas for innovations that would benefit
 +older people, yet have wider application.
 +
 +Funding challenge programmes have recently supported a number of
 +projects and social enterprises in this field - and more innovative
 +ideas could develop from collaborations between those with a deep
 +understanding of the needs of older people, and those understanding the
 +potential of digital technologies. *Challenge: how might those working
 +with older people help the private sector and social enterprises develop
 +products, services and projects for this growing market?* [This
 +provocation with comments, resources and links to
 +ideas](/​dtlater/​provocation_5)
 +
 +6 - Address social isolation and other challenges through a blend of
 +online and offline - they dont need to be different worlds. Digital
 +technology can enable virtual friendships that lead to meetings, support
 +social learning, and underpin projects for new forms of sharing both on
 +the physical world and online. The greatest benefits may come from
 +blending face-to-face and online activities.
 +
 +The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has explored neighbourhood approaches to
 +loneliness in four areas over three years, and being older tops the list
 +of factors contributing to loneliness. The research is revealing ideas
 +on how a neighbourhood can support people who are lonely - some of which
 +may be supported by technology.
 +
 +From evidence elsewhere, a mix of texts, phone calls, online networking,
 +visits and informal get-togethers can help build a social network
 +through which people can provide mutual support. Contributors on the
 +Gransnet forum say how important virtual friendships can be - while also
 +emphasising the importance of physical presence.
 +
 +Innovative projects are now being developed that use digital technology
 +to encourage and support local connections. DropBy online is a
 +supportive online community, with chat rooms and special interest groups
 +that also encourages get-togethers. Other projects use online systems to
 +facilitate meeting and sharing: meals (Casserole Club); accommodation
 +(Room for Tea); cooks tips and collaborative cooking sessions (League
 +of meals)
 +
 +Shirley Ayres, whose blog focuses on sharing resources to promote the
 +use of social media in social care, provides an excellent roundup of
 +these and projects showing How the Internet and digital technology can
 +combat isolation.
 +
 +*Challenge: how can we build on successful personal and project
 +experience so far to scale up the use of digital technology to address
 +problems of social isolation and loneliness.* [This provocation with
 +comments, resources and links to ideas](/​dtlater/​provocation_6)
 +
 +7 - Enable carers and care services - both for direct use of technology
 +and to act as proxies. More could be achieved by integrating digital
 +technology into services, and supporting carers in their use of
 +technology. This will be increasingly important as older people who are
 +not connected may require proxy helpers to use online public services.
 +
 +There is great potential for digital technologies to be used to improve
 +care, from helping the helpers develop digital skills and better
 +connecting the social care market, to innovative projects that use
 +digital technology to share caring and provide employment for carers.
 +Similarly older patients using services like Patient Opinion to make
 +their needs known can inform service providers.
 +
 +The organisation Digital Unite specialises in helping older people use
 +technology, and managing director Emma Solomon emphasises from their
 +experience how important it is to provide the basic starter resources
 +for learners and intermediaries,​ as well as to innovate. This support is
 +needed on a continuing basis. Emma wrote on our ideas forum that there
 +has been progress in the last decade, however:
 +
 +-   some things remain stubbornly persistent; we still meet resistance
 +    from scheme staff who dont have the time or the skills themselves
 +    to support residents we might be working with. And basic digital
 +    skills and digital intermediary skills are not yet, always, hard
 +    wired into the organisations they work for. We dont so much need
 +    more new technology to get round this as a concerted and sustained
 +    push on practical, comprehensive,​ basic digital skills and support
 +    mechanisms. That may not be sexy or cutting edge, but that doesnt
 +    mean its not important.
 +
 +*Challenge: how can digital technology be used to enable existing care
 +services and carers, and support different models of social care*. [This
 +provocation with comments, resources and links to
 +ideas](/​dtlater/​provocation_7)
 +
 +8 - Use digital technologies to enhance existing connections of family
 +and friends - and help each other learn. Free video calls,
 +photo-sharing,​ email, texting and the use of social networking sites are
 +part of day-to-day communications with family and friends for many
 +people later in life. Family members can help each other learn about
 +digital technologies.
 +
 +According to Forster Communications,​ in their Rites of passage ​
 +helping people make the best of getting older report, nearly nearly
 +half of 55 75 year olds connect to their friends with either Skype or
 +instant messenger services, with a similar proportion spending up to 30
 +hours on the internet a week. The fastest growing group of Facebook
 +users is aged 50+.
 +
 +Learning about digital technologies,​ and using them, may bring different
 +generations in a family closer together. Simple email lists, like Google
 +groups, can create new connections with neighbours. Discussion in the
 +Gransnet forum brought home how important digital technologies can be in
 +later life, as part of family life - and how a lot more could be done to
 +make them easier to use and more relevant.
 +
 +One participant said: I never thought I would embrace technology but now
 +I could not be without emails, smart phones, skype etc. My sister lives
 +in Martinique we communicate regularly both having such different lives.
 +I take photos on my mobile of the grandchildren send them to the family
 +because we live in deepest Devon they don’t very often see them.
 +
 +But another added: All of us on Gransnet are computer literate, but out
 +there there are thousands of grans/​grandads who are not. I have never
 +sent a text. I have been shown what to do but even with glasses I can
 +hardly read the small digital print and arthritic fingers mean I am
 +clumsy with the small buttons and I am only 66
 +
 +*Challenge: how can we co-design digital technologies for later life by
 +looking more closely at the many different ways they are used in home
 +settings, and for communications between family and friends.* [This
 +provocation with comments, resources and links to
 +ideas](/​dtlater/​provocation_8)
 +
 +9 - Value the role that older people may have in acting as digital
 +technology champions - and providing long term support. Older people
 +know the challenges of using technology later in life, and may be best
 +at providing the continuing support needed for its adoption.
 +Demonstrations and short courses are seldom enough.
 +
 +The report Ageing and the Use of the Internet says Older technology
 +champions may offer an alternative way (to inter-generational learning)
 +to approach the coaching of older users.
 +
 +The report Simple things, done well, commissioned by the Nominet Trust
 +from Policy Exchange, recommends setting up a UK wide network of older,
 +tech savvy people who would be paid to go into peoples homes and
 +community centres to teach them how to use the internet to make digital
 +transactions such as renewing a driving licence or paying a utility
 +bill.
 +
 +Those working in the field emphasise the need for more than a one-off
 +course, making the role of helpers who can provide continuing support
 +doubly important. The Age Action Alliance has developed the Digital
 +Champions Capacity Building Framework for champions working at different
 +levels: the formal role of the professional,​ employed to provide help;
 +the informal helper who has a passion for digital technology; and the
 +spontaneous helper who may be friend or family, helping out when needed.
 +Emma Solomon, managing director of Digital Unite, writes in the
 +framework paper:
 +
 +-   The DCCB Framework is not an onerous or complicated concept to
 +    implement. It builds on existing programmes and initiatives in the
 +    digital skills, digital outreach areas. It collates and extends
 +    existing resources, content and collateral. It does not require the
 +    creation of anything new - it simply requires the activation,
 +    organisation,​ structuring and support of delivery mechanisms sitting
 +    under our noses and inherent in the many and various and diverse
 +    organisations that make up our society. Its potential to embed
 +    widespread and meaningful digital literacy is enormous.
 +
 +*Challenge: how can we promote and support the work of older people as
 +digital champions in a way that is sustainable.* [This provocation with
 +comments, resources and links to ideas](/​dtlater/​provocation_9)
 +
 +10 - Look for ideas among those providing digital training and support -
 +and help them realise them. Those working directly with users of digital
 +technology will have insights into what works, and where development
 +would be valuable. With some support they could turn ideas into
 +projects.
 +
 +Trainers, tutors and mentors will have powerful insights into what is
 +likely to work - but may lack the time or opportunity to turn these
 +insights into new practical applications.
 +
 +While some organisations have produced excellent guides, they usually
 +concentrate on standard tools and activities. They may not be maintained
 +and updated as short-term projects end. There are example of sharing and
 +networking, but still relatively small-scale. The Age Action Alliance
 +digital inclusion group is now mapping the activities and resources of
 +their members, and the Nominet Trust and other agencies run networking
 +events.
 +
 +Overall we could make more of what we have, through better networking,
 +and connecting the do-ers, thinkers and developers.
 +
 +*Challenge: how can make more of the insights of those in the front
 +line, and encourage more collaboration among those in the field.* [This
 +provocation with comments, resources and links to
 +ideas](/​dtlater/​provocation_10)
  
dtlater/main_report.txt · Last modified: 2017/06/12 10:20 (external edit)