Partnership case study: ‘Digital memories project’ by Bolton at Home

We encourage older people to use digital technology by demonstrating its potential through reminiscence.

We support people to use photographs, local area stories, personal stories of the past, timelines and memory boxes to reduce social isolation, maximise income, and increase access to information. This helps to improve the general wellbeing of older people who are moving away from being part of an inclusive society with an increasing use of digital technology across all areas of everyday life.

Our challenge          

We identified four areas where older people are not engaging with digital technology and are moving further away from being part of an inclusive society:

  • paying premium rates for insurance, holidays and goods, since they are not able to compare prices online before buying
  • self-service at the supermarket is extremely challenging for older people as they struggle to understand how to operate the technology
  • they are becoming more isolated in a world where younger members of their family and service providers use social media for news, updates, and information rather than traditional telephone or postal services
  • there is a general fear of new technology.

Our solution

We use reminiscence as a way of encouraging older people to engage with digital technology. We do this by drawing upon old photographs of the local area, stories and artefacts to develop reminiscence project – for example memory boxes and display boards.

Attendees are shown how to: 

  • research local history online
  • scan old photographs and use Photoshop to improve the quality
  • set up a Facebook page, skype account, Flickr to share photos at each site

Some people come to learn IT skills, and others want to be involved in the reminiscence project. Both groups are equally and differently able to benefit from the programme.

There will is a “try before you buy” scheme for anyone wishing to purchase tablets/laptops.

Our impact

The project has just started and so there are no outcomes as yet. However, the following information/data will be used to measure its outcomes and success:

  • baseline data – to identify the level of knowledge and experience of each attendee at the start of their involvement with regards to the use of technology
  • at the end of the project we will review this knowledge to determine what they have learnt, and what they now access and use
  • identify cost savings attendees have made using technology for example accessing cheaper insurance, energy provider, goods etc.
  • new social contacts and networks established

In terms of future impacts and wider inclusion and support to customers in other areas we will measure the number of: 

  • Digi-Buddies created.
  • IT sessions continued using new volunteers

We will also continue to measure the impacts of this support on customers as described in the first 4 points listed above.

Our partners

We have partnered with ‘Everyday People’ who have experience of delivering such projects and whose mission is “to increase the well-being of older people and communities through fun activities and creative arts".

The project works with internal and local partners to use their expertise and experience to assist customers and help them use technology to access local services:  

  • Bolton at Home Call centre: how to report a repair online, how to contact us, and online help to maintain tenancies
  • Bolton at Home Keep warm for less campaign: price comparison for cheaper energy and insurance providers
  • Bolton Council ‘Bolton Get Active’ (Public health team): to show residents how to use Bolton’s online activity website.

The project is funded through the Lottery.

Our role

The project was developed by Bolton at Home’s dedicated Activities Co-ordinator who acquired lottery funding from Awards for All and will continue to co-ordinate and evaluate the project.

The project uses Bolton at Home community centres and community lounges to deliver the project. They are open to Bolton at Home sheltered accommodation tenants and other older people from the local community.

The project uses these assets to identify and engage customers. By helping people to use technology in everyday life, we help them to continue to live and age well by:

  • engaging with others including friends and family
  • accessing services differently
  • using technology to connect to new activities, interests and information.

All of these factors help to improve a person’s health and wellbeing.

This project feeds into a number of local strategies including:

  • Anti-Poverty
  • Affordable Warmth
  • Targeted Prevention – through preventing deterioration in health, dependency on services and delay in recovery and helping to achieve economic wellbeing
  • Health and Wellbeing by helping people to age well

Our contribution to improving health

The project aims to reduce social isolation and help people maximise income by accessing cheaper goods and services only available online.

Using technology can also enable older people to live and age well whilst continuing to be independent. It allows them to access support and information about health conditions and activities to encourage an active lifestyle, and to take advantage of assistive technology to help keep them safe and well at home, delaying the need for care or nursing interventions. Reducing social isolation can help combat depression and loneliness that affects mental health wellbeing both for the older person and their carer.

This project assists with Domains 2 and 3 of the NHS Outcomes framework by “Enhancing quality of life for people with long term conditions”, particularly carers and people with a mental illness, dementia or multiple long term conditions and ”helping people to recover their independence after illness or injury”.

In terms of Public Health the project helps to tackle fuel poverty, increase physical activity amongst older people and improve health related quality of life for older people.