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Digital Inclusion and Older People in a Covid-19 world

As champions of using digital solutions to deliver all the different facets of self-directed care and support, we are often asked about how older people can access such solutions.  Age UK has issued a briefing paper that looks at the impact the pandemic has had on internet use among people aged 52+ in England.  We pick out some of the pertinent findings and what local authorities and NHS organisations can takeaway from the briefing.   

1. Quite a lot of older people do use digital!

 “A large majority of 50-64 year olds (88%) and 65-74 year olds (75%) in England use the internet every day or almost every day, compared to under half (46%) of those aged 75+”.   Whilst there is much to do to engage the 75+ age group, local authorities and NHS organisations can take comfort that three quarters of the 65-74 age group are well-connected.  We would suggest that not only CAN they access things digitally, they EXPECT to be able to do so. 

2. The biggest barrier is skills

“Among those people age 52+ who said they would like to use the internet more, the most common barrier was lack of digital skills”.   This is far higher than the other reasons, such as lack of trust in the internet and not having access to equipment and broadband.  It is also interesting that more than half a million people aged 65+ in the UK are ‘lapsed users’ – that is people who have used the internet in the past but no longer do so.  The takeaway being that alongside delivering digital solutions, focus could be placed on engaging those groups, by delivering digital inclusion programmes and resources which aim to support older people to develop the skills and confidence to live an independent life in an increasingly digital world.  Examples are those provided by Age UK nationally and locally, and the work around 'digital champions' that one of our clients, Leeds City Council is doing to help embed their digital solutions.   

3. What do they do?

“Finding information on health-related issues and on government services were the least common use of the internet. Around half of people aged 50-64 used the internet for these purposes and around two in five people aged 65-74”.  This suggests that there is an opportunity for local authorities and NHS organisations to capitalise on those that are using the internet for other reasons, and nudge them towards using it to access information, advice & guidance and/or finding & managing care and support. 

We are passionate about delivering self-directed care and support to everyone.  If you are too, lets talk.   A copy of the full briefing paper can be found on the Age UK website.