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UK adults are now spending 4 hours a day online – this is the highest on record according to Ofcom’s annual Online Nation report. COVID-19 has significantly changed the way we communicate and people are now looking for new ways to keep connected, informed, entertained and well – both physically and mentally - in the pandemic.
However, in an increasingly digital world, anyone not engaging with the internet is at risk of being left behind. The latest UK Consumer Digital Index 2020 report states that an estimated 7% of the UK population are still offline and 9 million people struggle to get online by themselves. Age and vulnerability are significant factors with the data showing that 77% of over 70s have very low digital engagement and 44% of those offline are under the age of 60. Furthermore, the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, or people with an impairment, are also less likely to have the skills they need to access the internet or use digital devices to get themselves online.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic members of the National Care Forum (NCF), the leading representative body for not for profit social care providers throughout the UK, have seen inspiring and creative ways professional care teams have found to keep those receiving care and support connected to their loved ones and to life. Care providers are using more digital forms of connectivity to create vibrant and stimulating activities to enable residents to stay in contact with friends and family beyond the doors of the care home.
Care providers have highlighted the increasing importance of their staff being digitally enabled and digitally confident, and the current COVID-19 crisis has made this even more vital.
Essential digital skills can be a lifeline for people and turn isolation from lack of connectivity into inclusion. The NCF has responded to this challenge by developing a series of simple practical resources (15 Crib sheets) to help care providers - big and small - make the best use of digital technology for their staff and residents in a COVID-19 world.
The Crib sheets are designed to equip both staff and residents, or anyone using care and support services, with the basic skills they need to get online and to enjoy the experience of using technology. The Crib sheets are simple to use, bright and written in plain English to ensure the guidelines are straightforward to understand and accessible to all. The Crib sheets can be printed and laminated and are useful to help anyone in a care setting, in their own homes, or carers, families and friends benefit from learning new digital skills.
The Crib sheets are grouped into three key themes, starting with basic skills on how to get started and connected to the internet, to providing helpful tips on using search engines to look for information, finding a website, using social networks, video calling and messaging.
Vic Rayner, Executive Director at the NCF said: “Digital skills are becoming increasingly important, but as research shows, many older people and people with impairment and vulnerabilities are not always confident to get online by themselves. The changing demands as a result of the pandemic means that digital skills now play an important part in connecting people with others, helping people access important information and services, and maintain their health and wellbeing. It is absolutely essential that people are not excluded from the benefits that the internet and digital technologies can have in their lives, simply because they lack the skills to get online by themselves. This is the reason why we’ve developed the Crib sheets, to help care providers support their staff and residents with essential digital skills, to make sure that everyone who wants to has the opportunity to be connected, included and supported in using technology.”
The Crib sheets can be downloaded and printed from the NCF website at www.nationalcareforum.org.uk