‘Smart’ homes to help with digital skills training

A new scheme will see homes in rural Essex become ‘smart homes’ with homeowners trained as digital ‘boomers’ to help others improve their digital skills.

The experts will then open their homes for older people to visit so they can learn first hand from their peers how to make the most of smart technology to control household appliances, book GP appointments online, contact friends and family by video, and shop online.

Younger, ‘digital buddies’ will also be on hand to support with digital skills.

The homes, to be created by a partnership led by Uttlesford Council for Voluntary Service, will be funded through a share of £400,000 from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to improve older and disabled people’s lives through the Digital Inclusion Innovation Fund.

The fund will also see an app created by the Down’s Syndrome Association to allow people with Down’s Syndrome to monitor their weight and exercise levels from their smartphones to promote good health and wellbeing.

More than 70% of people with Down’s Syndrome are classed as overweight or obese. The app will be the first of its kind specifically designed for those with Down’s Syndrome. It will also aim to connect people with a wider community of users which can help combat loneliness.

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.’

Clive Emmett, chief executive of Uttlesford Council for Voluntary Service, said: ‘Organisations across Essex are backing the Digital Boomers which will see older people redesign their relationship using technology to become even more tech confident and retain their independence for longer.

‘Thanks to the Digital Inclusion Fund, our exciting Living Smart Homes and Digital Buddies pilots will help us rethink how older people use digital to support their health, wellbeing and independence.’

Thomas Barrett
Senior journalist - NewStart Follow him on Twitter


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