Using technology is now part of everyone’s daily life so social care workers need to help people they work with and their families understand, choose and use everyday technology. That could be something as straightforward as using the internet to get the latest information or finding the best platform to take part in video calls to get support.
Amy Broughton from Your Voice Counts has been helping people break down fears around using technology so people can maintain maximum choice and control over their lives.
“It’s become so important now that people have online access,” says Amy. “It’s a need rather than a want, so providers and carers have accountability to support people get online.”
It’s often been difficult to show people how to use technology face to face so Your Voice Counts have utilised software, including Team Viewer, that can allow secure remote access to someone else’s computer or mobile phone.
Amy has also come across some barriers, including providers and families gate keeping, and not giving the people they support access to online material because of perceived risks. But they have managed to overcome them by doing some problem solving to understand those fears and talk things through to help everyone feel more confident managing risk.
Charlie Crabtree, communications lead at KeyRing, has made sure her organisation invested the time and resources needed to get people online and connecting digitally because the world has changed so much since the pandemic began.
“People need to be able to access the internet and do things more digitally,” says Charlie. “We owe it to the people that we support to give them access to the opportunities that they can get online.
“Whether that be learning, formally or from peer support, or providing entertainment. It’s about connection and giving people that chance to connect with others and the word beyond their four walls and be part of a community.”
Charlie recognises that they are not experts but are working hard to give the people who draw on their services the best opportunities possible for them.
“Everyone we support is different and there are different challenges along the way. Whether that be issues with the devices people have, Wi-Fi connection problems or the cost of getting online. There were also issues with risk assessments and policies.
“It’s a journey. Every time we come across a challenge, we have to find a new way to overcome it. Sometimes that’s about saying that the risk assessment or policy is no longer fit for purpose as it’s not a reflection of the modern world and not what is best for the people we support.”
Matthew Campbell from United Response used to manage local activity opportunities for the people they support. When lockdown happened, these activities had to move online, and they’ve learnt to adapt and grow.
“There are a number of risks that can arise when accessing the internet,” notes Matthew. “While in the physical world, risks around safety can be monitored and safeguarded against, this can be a little bit trickier when we go into an online setting.”
They’ve found there are lots of different ways to manage risks, including working with people on a one-to-one basis, setting up peer support groups and providing information in easy read format for people to keep and refer back to.
“Safety can be secured with open and honest communication” reports Matthew. “It is not ok to just say it’s too risky. With the right support and coaching anybody can gain the skills needed to be safe and happy online.
Skills for Care has been working with organisations to share learning about supporting workers, individuals and their families to use everyday technology. They have recently published some on their website featuring real life examples and will be running some webinars over the next few months. Visit www.skillsforcare.org.uk/supportingpeoplewithtechnology