“… likes linking, hates re-inventing…” (Care homes and volunteers)

The title of this post is taken from my Twitter bio and is something i’m keen to put into practice when I can. If there is a good idea or good project out there, let others know about it, don’t go off and set up something in competition or with similar aims.

This is a little late, but fills in some of what i’ve been doing on Connecting Care during the latter part of March (after coming back from #14NTC, which I know i’ve STILL not blogged about!).

IT in Care Home

IT Facilities for residents at Oakland Village – Swadlincote

One of the other projects alongside ours in the DoH Innovation, Excellence and Strategic Development programme is being delivered in 5 CCG areas by NCVO to link the work of local volunteer centres with care homes in their area. They are conducting research and developing pathways for volunteers to offer their skills to support the work and the residents. More details about the project and a list of the 12 care homes are here.)

In addition to traditional volunteering activities, we were keen to link with their work and find out the level of interest in the role of Digital Volunteers, both by the staff and residents of the care homes and as a skillset offered from the volunteer centres.

We attended all three of the NCVO events in Westminster, Oldham and Swadlincote, also at the joint event with My Home Life and CSV. The clear message heard from care homes was that more could be done with new technology, to offer digital skills support and to provide ways to supplement the role of Activities Co-ordinators in the care homes with suitable volunteers. This backs up the evidence we have seen from the care homes we have visited on Connecting Care. They are starting to see the importance of Tablet PCs and the place of these for art based activities, for reminicense and for communication with distant family members, but capacity to use them is often squeezed and (rightly) a secondary place to provision of support to residents. Something that volunteers may be able to help with.

I’d like to see the role of Social Care Digital Champions promoted (one for Digital Unite or Tinder a Foundation?). Of course there is the need to keep the main IT systems of the care home working, suitable equipment being in place and having good Wi-fi access … but that’s a topic for another blog post!

Beside the seaside…

One of the care homes we are working with on Connecting Care is in the seaside town of Bognor Regis. On Thursday we paid a return visit to see how they are getting on with the actions from our first meeting.

It was great to hear of the positive steps they are taking such as their new website, about their activities co-ordinator who is using YouTube to show interesting video clips requested by the residents and that they are exploring activities to use on a Tablet PC.  They have even found a volunteer to look after any day to day technical issues they have with the office computers.

However it was the simple and affordable changes to the technology they use that are making the most difference.

  •  for £15 they bought an HDMI lead so that they can hook up a laptop to the large screen TV on the wall, this really has transformed the way they use this TV and the range of media that the residents can watch.
  • for less than that (£0) we set up a Box.com account for file sharing between the computers located in the building and with the committee members at home. Previously files were shared around on USB sticks and by e-mail attachments often resulting in delays, frustration, security risks and wasted time due to version control problems.

So these two very simple changes have enabled them to offer better digital facilities to residents and to work in a more efficient way… thus meaning they could have more time with their residents.

Good use of technology is inspiring

I’m not sure about awards ceremonies. There is something that makes me think, “how can that be the best example of a thing?” or “are they really the most significant person?”. What about all those other undiscovered examples of splendid ideas or good projects just getting on with it and not getting a certificate or a cut glass trophy. Some awards also seem to be just about the glitzy ceremony after which the ideas and innovations fade back into the shadows. However I do think the Technology 4 Good awards (now in their 4th year) strive to be different.

The awards were launched on Tuesday this week in the BT Tower at a lunchtime get together which showcased some of the winners from previous years. It’s really helpful to see how ideas and initiatives such as the Dyslexia Global AutoCorrect software from LexAble and Lifelites have progressed and changed lives. It’s a great way to hear people’s stories and to learn from what they do and how they use technology. The @tech4goodawards twitter feed will be featuring some of these previous winners over the next few weeks. I was also reminded that I must go back and see Anne at StartpointSK6 in Stockport for another Fish and Chip lunch!

Mark Walker explained the life cycle of the awards which will feature a Viewing Event in May to meet the short listed entries and then the Inspiration Afternoon (awards) in July. There is also a Showcase Event planned for later in the year to see anTechnology 4 Good Awardsd find out more from the winners.

This process is truly about how technology can be used for good, so it’s right that a wide cross section of the voluntary sector get the chance to see these great ideas and to learn and be inspired by their great work.

Even the awards (pictured here), constructed from recycled computer parts are amazing!

Nominations in the 7 categories are now open on the website and close on 6th May, I’m sure there are some great ideas out there just waiting to be shared.