Calls for an information technology initiation campaign for the elderly

A Cork TD called for an information technology campaign to educate older people on how to use computers to access information and contact loved ones amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

MP Colm Burke (FG) explained that, in the face of a global pandemic, ensuring older people can use computers has never been more important.

He explained that computer literacy ensures that older people keep up to date with the latest information about the pandemic and can contact loved ones, reducing social isolation.

“It looks like Covid-19 is here to stay for a while,” Mr Burke said.

“Therefore, we need to do a lot more to make sure that we can disseminate information to older people and that we put in place the structures necessary to help older people, and all age groups, access information and contact their relatives. ”

While some local authorities have taken the lead in providing online technical assistance programs for older people, Burke called for a national response from a wide range of government services.

“I think he needs a national response,” he said.

“The number of people over 65 in Ireland increased from 629,000 in 2016 to 720,000, an increase of 90,000 in a short period of time.

“People are living longer and may have arrived in environments where access to computers was not necessary,” he added.

“Now the elderly can live on their own and they need access to information and to be able to contact their families. ”

Mr Burke recalled an initiative in Bishopstown in Cork that helped an 85-year-old woman learn to use a computer so she could email her grandnephew in the United States.

“This is an important way to ensure that older people do not experience social isolation,” he said.

“Many seniors have been proactive throughout their lives and would love a new challenge and a new learning opportunity, but now we need to give them that opportunity. ”

In response to a recent question on the subject from Mr Burke, Sandra Tuohy, Deputy National Director of Operational Services for Seniors, explained that a number of local authorities are deploying the Acorn Age-Friendly tablet to improve computer literacy in the elderly. people.

“The local authorities are also organizing computer learning sessions for the elderly through their program for the elderly,” she said.

There are a small number of projects at HSE, one in Sligo, for example, run by the Psychiatry of Later Life service that is testing the use of Amazon Alexa Smart Assistant devices with elderly people with mental health issues as a way to stay. connected and it is in partnership with Amazon.

“The HSE has also partnered with many other stakeholders, including singer Niall Horan, who pledged € 100,000 for the purchase of electronic devices for residents of long-term nursing homes, with HSE funding the connectivity of these devices through a partnership with Vodafone and Avaie, ”she added.

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