Published: 15th Oct 2019
Digital inclusion for health and wellbeing can become more important as we get older.
Older people with long-term conditions or who are going through life transitions (such as bereavement, the onset of illness or impairment, increased caring responsibilities) may benefit from easier access to online health and care support. The internet and digital technologies can play a valuable role in enabling older and disabled people to get more out of life, keep in touch with friends and family, and make life easier.
Although the generation gap is narrowing, internet use is still lowest among the oldest age groups. Over 65s - and particularly over 75s - are far more likely to be ‘offline’ (either never online or not recently online) in comparison to other age groups. Almost half of those over the age of 75 have never been online, and almost a fifth of people with a disability have never been online. Digital exclusion is strongly correlated with low household income, living in social housing, and lower levels of educational attainment.
Despite this, there is currently no national provision in England specifically to support older people’s digital inclusion and ensure equal access to online health services.
This report brings together recommendations for designing digital skills interventions for older people with care and support needs. It draws on insights from two pathfinders, which were funded by NHS Digital and supported by Good Things Foundation as part of the Widening Digital Participation programme. The pathfinders generated insights on:
The recommendations also build on previous work in this area, including practice-oriented research funded by the Centre for Ageing Better and TalkTalk, and an external evaluation of the Thanet pathfinder by the University of Sussex. A list of useful resources are provided at the end of this report and on the Good Things Foundation’s Digital Health Lab website.