02/02/2015 1 Comment
A couple of weeks ago I had was invited by SEEFA (South East England Forum on Ageing) (www.SEEFA.org.uk) to take part in a House of Lords Symposium on Digital Inclusion and an ageing population. It was my first time in a Lord’s Committee room and I had the pleasure to sit next to Lord Filkin who hosted the event. As we chatted we discussed the House of Lords report of a couple of years ago which he co-authored about the state of readiness of UK PLC for an Ageing Population and its premise that one of the early warning sign is A&E performance which was most apropos given the poor figures published that week.
Journalist David Brindle from The Guardian chaired the meeting where we heard from a number of speakers including Paul Burstow MP the former Care Minister and from around the table people discussed what is meant by digital inclusion and how to drive it forward, the discussion took place before an invited audience and the thoughts captured for a report based in part on the discussion that was had. For my part I talked on being careful not to replace community and human interact for a new digital interaction as loneliness is the key issue here and no amount of technology can replace friends and family, technology can enable friends and family to keep it touch but it can’t replace them.
One of the things I learnt and pondered about was ‘Digital Fossils’. In this area we all too easily say when the current generation of older people have passed because within the next generation most people can use a laptop and tablet they always will but as technologies change, people can get struck at a stage of learning new things and so the new technologies may pass them by and they will struggle to use the emerging platforms. With the fast pace of change in digit technology IT literate today does not necessary mean IT literate tomorrow. This sound daft until you stop to think about it. How many of us are comfortable with email and word and excel and our CD collection then talk with younger people and see if they do the same and increasingly they don’t. They use WhatsApp, SnapChat, Google docs and have a Spotify account for their music or download it from iTunes, with email being how you communicate with the old folks! So interestingly it’s not as far-fetched as it sounds and thus adds to the challenge of making sure inclusion is a key element as we develop digital services now and in the future.