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EMPOWERCARE project: using tech to increase independence in the community

EMPOWERCARE project: using tech to increase independence in the community

A project by Kent County Council is working to improve the digital skills of older people in the community. EMPOWERCARE is encouraging adoption of technology so people can support their own wellbeing and keep themselves healthy and motivated.

Here we talk to Emily Paulding, Project Officer at Kent County Council, to find out what the project is about, what technology they’re trialling and how it aims to make a difference to peoples’ lives.

 

What is the EMPOWERCARE project?

Our project is a two-year technological and social innovation research project. It aims to create resilient communities and reduce individual frailty and loneliness. We’re looking at how technology can help address gaps in care. Our target groups are those aged 65 and over and people aged 50 plus with at least one chronic condition.

 

How are you funded?

EMPOWERCARE logoWe’re EU funded through the Interreg 2 Seas Programme. The project is a cross-border partnership involving 13 organisations from across the UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

 

 

 

What do you hope to achieve?

Our project gives us the opportunity to address some of the challenges we face with an ageing population using technology. We’re putting people at the heart of service design to reduce isolation. We’re loaning them different devices to try at home to see what communication devices and assistive technologies are useful and make a difference.

The main elements of wellbeing we’re focussing on is improving fitness and mobility, rehabilitation and access to the community. We’re creating Digital Ambassadors within the local community to deliver support and digital skills to others.

 

What is the latest with the project?

Despite launching during the pandemic, we’re making great progress. At Kent County Council, we’ve been researching what technology is available to support the target group. Individuals will be given the opportunity to trial different products. They’ll be supported by the Digital Ambassadors, who we’re recruiting now.

 

What technology are you trialling?

We’ll be loaning out different devices for people to try at home. This means they can see what works for them and get used to the technology before buying.

We’ll be offering:

  • tablet devices
  • age-specific tablet devices designed for the target age group, such as GrandPad
  • a voice-controlled device, like Amazon Alexa
  • easy to use smartphones
  • a list of useful apps to download.

 

Tell us more about the Digital Ambassadors.

We’re recruiting for volunteers throughout Kent to become Digital Ambassadors, who will offer skills training and support to people over 65 in the community. Volunteers will receive free training to ensure they have all the confidence and resources they need to support others. The training will begin in April.

 

If you’re interested in becoming a Digital Ambassador or would like to find out more about the project, please contact [email protected] or visit www.designandlearningcentre.com/empowercare-project

 

 

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