A new report by Shirley Ayres for Nominet Trust outlines the issues we’re facing in an ageing society and explores the potential of online digital communications technology to address these issues. As well as Shirley’s invaluable insights, this report provides a comprehensive review of the evidence and research in this area and cites innovative projects already under way.
It focuses on well-being, independence and prevention through access, connection and inclusivity. She makes the vital point early on that digital technology cannot replace human contact, kindness, empathy and understanding but it does allow people to connect in different ways, quickly and easily.
Feeling connected and having supportive social relationships has a strong link to health and longevity. Isolation, loneliness, physical and mental health challenges are important social challenges facing society as a whole. And for older people in particular, isolation is a major factor impacting on their well-being and life expectancy.
Social media has made an impact on the way many of us communicate, collaborate and share knowledge and information – whether that is with friends and family, colleagues or complete strangers. Online engagement is a powerful way to draw connections between people that may have never met, but who share many of the same life experiences and interests.
Challenges for social care
‘Older people’ are not a homogenous group, they’re as varied in their needs and interests as individuals in any other sector of the population.
Technology provides many different ways of connecting people and resources. This should enable the design and delivery of appropriate care services that help to celebrate and value the life experience and wisdom offered by the older people they are supporting.
Shirley also addresses issues of digital inclusion. Government plans to deliver more services ‘digital by default’ have created challenges for social care including disparity of Internet access and digital literacy.
The use of technology for enabling social contact and participation can be very successful, but many older people need a little help to start using digital technology – plus ongoing support
The report calls for a more holistic approach to ageing, taking into account not only the complex needs of older individuals but also those of individuals with care responsibilities. It champions better integration of service provision and collaboration between the digital tech industry, academics, care providers and people who use care services.
Care and support in a digital society needs to have a different focus which challenges the perceptions of older people as being a ‘burden’ and promotes the benefits of technology to enable people to live more independent, safe and fulfilling lives.
She concludes with a number of recommendations, including:
- Developing from the ground up an independent Community Wellbeing and Social Technology Hub which takes advantage of the technology which it reports on and supports all stakeholders to to share resources in discoverable ways
- Carers and care seekers need to access information and support online more easily
- A more joined-up approach to digital inclusion and a more open way of working to avoid expensive and unnecessary duplication of pilots
- Digital tech innovation showcase events
The full report can be found here.
On my radar – some of the latest digital developments, debate and insights (please add anything I have missed in the comments, thanks)
Digital by default requires a concerted culture change
Embracing the new digital by default strategy will benefit public service users, but government departments will have to change
For [the Department of Health], going digital is more about adopting digital tools and techniques we now take for granted in our personal lives to make the business of government better. These techniques can help us communicate more effectively; share and manage knowledge more robustly; develop more efficient working practices and improve and open up policy-making.
By Rachel Neaman, deputy director of digital, channel strategy and publishing, and digital leader for the Department of Health, Digital by default requires a concerted culture change, The Guardian Thursday 6 December 2012
How social media can help you do your job in #ukhousing
Bromford Group tops the list in social communications study because it behaves as a network of connected staff, residents and partners
How can housing providers demonstrate that they are delivering social value? We believe that running a social business provides at least part of the answer. Under the banner “connected housing”, Thames Valley Housing Association is working to understand how housing professionals can use social media more effectively to improve their efforts for tenants and customers.
By Jayne Hilditch, corporate services director at Thames Valley Housing Association, How social media can help you do your job in #ukhousing, The Guardian, Friday 7 December 2012
How social business is changing the way we work
Businesses that utilise social tools are embracing a new age of problem solving and interaction
Social business is an increasingly popular organisational strategy that embraces a flatter and more transparent company culture and more collaborative, mobile and social technology in the workplace. Social business is a response to a variety of technology trends, including consumerisation of IT, social media, big data and cloud computing combined with the generational shifts taking place in the office.
How to manage and curate social media for live events
Social media can contribute to the success of an event, whether it’s a conference, a sports match, or live chat during a TV show. But with people posting to different channels from all angles, it’s hard to know where to begin managing and curating all that content in order to improve the experience of attendees and viewers, and not swamp them. Fret not: here’s how to run a tight ship.
By Tamara Littleton, CEO of eModeration, How to manage and curate social media for live events, Econsultancy Blog, Wednesday 12 December 2012
Future of Impacts: ‘How to’ guide to social media, podcasting and blogging for academics
Nice round-up of resources on academic blogging, podcasts and social media on the LSE’s Impact of Social Sciences Blog
Missed our on our ‘How to’ sessions at the recent Future of Impacts conference? Never fear, our ‘How to’ social media, podcasting, blogging and impact case study guides are here.
From Impact of Social Sciences Blog (LSE), Future of Impacts: ‘How to’ guide to social media, podcasting, blogging and writing your REF impact case study Friday 14 December 2012
Prosecutors clarify offensive online posts law
New guidelines could see fewer people being charged in England and Wales for offensive messages on social networks.
The Director of Public Prosecutions said people should face a trial only if their comments on Twitter, Facebook or elsewhere go beyond being offensive. He said the guidance combats threats and internet trolls without having a “chilling effect” on free speech.
By Dominic Casciani, Prosecutors clarify offensive online posts law, BBC News, Wednesday 19 December 2012
The Universal Credit (UC) is set to be the first Digital by Default public service – but those most likely to need it are the least likely to be online.
A press release issued today by the Local Government Association (LGA) begins,
In its recently published Digital by Default strategy, Government is proposing to deliver public services online by default. This will start with the proposed universal credit, set to replace child tax credit, housing benefit, jobseekers allowance, income support, working tax credit and part of the social fund from 2013. The target is that from 2015, the default way to claim will be online.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 8.2 million adults in the UK, 16 per cent of the adult population have never used the Internet. Disproportionately represented within this group are older people, disabled people, unemployed people, people in poverty and/or on low incomes, all of whom are more likely to apply for benefits such as the Universal Credit.