As you may have heard, the Webroster Group recently sponsored the IT Innovator Award at the Great British National Care Home Awards. The winner of the award, Greensleeves Homes Trust touched our hearts with their story, they won the award for installing a computer system for the residents of one of their care homes earlier this year.
Karen Cooper, manager of Mount Ephraim House care home in Tunbridge Wells said: “We thought it would be really nice for our residents to be able to use computers whenever they wanted, to entertain themselves as well as to communicate with friends and family. Technology is a way forward and something that we should all be embracing.”
Karen had seen a computer system for residents at a trade show, and debated whether or not to invest in a similar system. In the end, she arranged for a training session to gauge the residents’ response. “A lot of our residents are over 90 years old, and only three of them were interested in the trial. They didn’t feel that computers would make a difference to their lives at all, so I was a bit disappointed at that stage.” She said.
It wasn’t until the oldest resident at the care home (aged 96) was shown how to complete a jigsaw puzzle on the computer, that the other residents realised just how useful computers could be. “With a bit of help, she managed to finish a jigsaw puzzle on the touch screen computer; she was amazed that a computer could do that! There were no fiddly jigsaw pieces to pick up, yet it was just as much fun as the real thing.” Added Karen.
Following this realisation by the residents that computers could actually benefit their everyday lives, Karen arranged a second trial of the system. This time a good proportion of the residents attended, and they were all very impressed.
This led to the care home installing a full computer system for its residents in February 2010. All residents now have access to the touch screen computer, which they find simple and easy to use. They have the option of using an extra large mouse, but most prefer to just use the touch screen. The system installed was by communications provider Simply Unite.
Residents use the computers to access the internet, read poetry, play games, complete jigsaws and even talk to friends and family on Skype! They have also mastered the art of email and enjoy keeping up to date by receiving photographs of loved ones.
Karen said: “Many of our residents’ families live abroad, so using Skype and email has made a real difference in helping them to keep in touch. Before we had the system, residents relied on letters and occasional phone calls to communicate with their families, grandchildren and friends. This is where technology has really changed their lives for the better.”
Karen was delighted to win the IT Innovator Award, she commented: “I can honestly say our computer system is the best thing I’ve ever spent money on.”
Our MD, Nigel Gittins said: “Every day I aim to portray the benefits of using IT to enhance everyday life, Karen and the Greensleeves team are an outstanding example of how efficient and effective technology can be. It is truly wonderful to see technology having such a positive impact on the lives of these residents. I am very proud to have the privilege of presenting Karen with her award and I just hope that her story is inspirational enough to encourage others to embrace technology in this way.”