Roy is retired and living in social housing in Thanet. He says: “Before we started doing the courses, I had a small bit to do with computers. But I wasn’t very confident.”
Roy found out about basic digital skills courses being run in his local housing scheme. The courses were part of the Pathfinder Orbit Housing were running, working alongside Thanet CCG and Orbit Housing Association, as part of the Widening Digital Participation programme.
With help from the volunteer Digital Champions, residents were offered free classes that took them from the basics, through to more advanced digital skills. The lessons were informal, friendly and delivered at a pace tailored to each of the residents.
Roy says: “I’m learning to do beneficial things for myself. I’ve found two health apps - one is a patient access app which I’ve joined, which means I can manage my medication which I need every month, and manage my appointments online. My medical records, I currently don’t have access to them, but I will get them. That way I can go anywhere and my medical records are easily accessible for anyone who needs to see them, such as GPs and other hospitals.
“I even have an app that tells me how many people are in the waiting room of each hospital in the area. I used it on Boxing Day, as I needed to go to A&E. There was one hospital with 34 people waiting and another hospital with only 1. So I went there and went straight through to see the doctor.”
But Roy’s not just managing his physical health more effectively with digital, but his financial health too. He says: “I am also able to do my banking online too. I can’t use the branches any more, so I do everything online and my bank gives me 5% interest - so it’s actually quite good for me.”
Roy is also enjoying the social aspect that comes from the classes and the skills learned there. “I can now use Messenger and WhatsApp to keep in touch with my daughters too. I am a great believer in the potential for the social aspect of these courses too. Now we are all able to email each other, so we could arrange parties, get everyone involved.”
Through the Widening Digital Participation programme, and the partnership built in Thanet, Roy has been transformed from someone with low skills and confidence, into someone healthier, happier, and better off.