Living Connected: Digital inclusion overcoming isolation of elders
NBNCo, Vita Foundation, Australian Government’s Be Connected Initiative
Duration: August 2016 – present
Living Connected has created a service to improve the digital literacy of older citizens who live in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven. This service applies the results of four year's research into why and how older people use digital devices and on the benefits to social well-being from this use.
As developed countries struggle to find suitable living arrangements for their ageing populations, many elderly citizens are becoming increasingly marginalized and isolated. Isolation is known to lead to severe problems such as depression. There is a large body of evidence that remaining active and are major contributors to health and wellbeing of the elderly. With age, the physical capability to get out and about diminishes. Meanwhile, digital technology continues to improve, providing new ways to connect with others and engage in exciting new activities.
The most recent Telstra report on digital inclusion in Australia reveals that older citizens are missing out on the benefits of the Internet; something that the rest of us take for granted. Government agencies, businesses and community services expect everyone to interact with them online and are making it difficult to access service in person. This is a real challenge for the digitally excluded.
What we did
The mission of Living Connected is to be a not-for profit community enterprise providing services for the social well-being of elders assisting them to set up and use a computer whereby they remain independent, connected and engaged. Research into the outcomes of social services has identified eight domains of wellbeing, three of which are on a higher level than the others: maintaining independence, staying connected and being able to engage in meaningful activities. Our research has demonstrated ways by which computers can be used to improve well-being in these domains: maintaining independence by doing banking and other transactions online; connecting with family and friends through email, Skype, and Facebook; and spending spare time doing an online course or your familiar history and much more.
Our research revealed the importance of (1) focusing on one or two things that each person wants to do (2) getting the best technology for each person and what they want (3) getting a few one-on-one lessons on their own device, just enough to do the one thing they want to do most and (4) having someone they can call on for help when they get stuck.
Project leader: Professor Helen Hasan