Older people living within the ExtraCare Charitable Trust’s twenty retirement communities have been offered a lifeline to tackle loneliness thanks to a generous charitable donation from Total Integrated Solutions Ltd (TIS).
TIS, who provide life safety, security and communications systems, has enabled ExtraCare, a registered charity that exists to create better lives for older people, to install high speed Wi-Fi across its 20 villages and schemes to benefit more than 4,000 residents.
During the past months – during lockdown especially – older people have had less opportunity for face-to-face socialising with family and friends, even GP consultations are now often only possible via video or phone.
The high speed Wi-Fi will allow residents – who are on average 82 years old – to exploit the benefits of digital technology that those of a younger age have relied on this year to feel connected and combat loneliness during these unprecedented times.
Jean Humphreys, aged 81, has lived at New Oscott Retirement Village in Birmingham for over ten years. She is anactive member of the community and volunteers her time, giving back to the village that she calls home. “I do a lot of volunteering. I was on reception during the first lockdown seven days a week and my friend and I did concerts out in the garden for eight weeks running. So, for me, it wasn’t so bad, but I can imagine
if I was like some other people, I would be driving myself absolutely mental.”She has seven grandchildren and eight great grandchildren who she ordinarily see a lot of: “Not seeing family was hard and it still is.” Jean continues: “Technology has definitely helped me during this time. I’m one of these people that must be guided through, I’m not a natural, but the kids help. One of my daughters, my granddaughter, and myself had an afternoon tea virtually in the summer, which was nice. While it’s certainly not the same, I do consider myself quite lucky over the other people who can’t do that.”
Jean has been using zoom and WhatsApp video call during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep in touch with family and friends. She has had a video call with her daughter every evening since lockdown began. With current restrictions in force, Christmas will be a different experience this year.
Despite Jean admitting to having little patience when it comes to technology – “the computer would end up out the window” – she is extremely thankful that the technology exists and that it has enabled her to have video calls with her loved ones during this difficult year. “I come from a close-knit family. I usually see all of them, all of the time. So it is very hard. It really is. Technology certainly does help the loneliness. It doesn’t cure the loneliness, but it helps. It’s better to see the faces of your loved ones, even if you can’t hug them. It will help your loneliness, if you can speak to your children, grandchildren, or whoever it is or sisters, brothers.”
Residents have been embracing technology to participate in community activities as well as connecting with friends and families. The villages have been hosting virtual fitness classes and entertaining residents with online quizzes and evening entertainment.
Henriette Lyttle-Breukelaar, Executive Director Marketing and Innovation comments: “The generosity will make a real difference to our charity and residents. The use of digital technology allows us to deliver our vision to create better lives for older people as it helps our residents to continue living as independently as possible, while providing them with the equipment to support and meet their care and lifestyle needs.
“By installing Wi-Fi across our locations, we can provide our older people with the digital means to avoid the feelings of isolation that so many of us have experienced this year. Technology can tackle loneliness in many ways through helping residents to communicate with friends and family and participate in online activities such as quizzes and fitness classes.”
James Twigg, Managing Director and Executive Team Chair at TIS comments: We have been supporting the Extracare Charitable Trust for over nine years by ensuring their critical life safety and security systems are compliant and well maintained. The relationship is a pleasure to be a part of as it is a true partnership, that benefits from both organisations striving for continuous improvements to ensure their residents receive exceptional care 24/7.
We are extremely proud to be able to further support our continued relationship by funding this amazingly thoughtful and life enhancing endeavour. It has been a very difficult year for the entire country but none more so than the elderly and to know we are helping them keep in touch with their friends and family is beyond words.