Alzheimer's Society Innovation Hub

Reaching people without Internet access

What about supporting people who are needing to ‘shield’ or ‘self-isolate’ but who don’t have access to The Internet? From previous projects and pieces of work, we have found that this can often be a challenge anyway, for example in terms of accessing information, but with the current pandemic and a lack of social interaction, this could make it even harder for people as a lot of the solutions for social interaction are using The Internet, such as video calls. How can we reach those who aren’t able to leave their homes and don’t have Internet access?

Natasha Howard

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Mike Harrhy 6 months ago

To design appropriate solutions it's really helpful to fully explore the nature of the problem(s) and critically examine any preconceptions, assumptions and missing evidence.

I sense there are two significant obstacles in the use of technology - this is based on the discussions I have had with people in the past:
(1) reluctance to engage in technology due to a perceived level of difficulty
(2) prohibitive costs of acquiring and learning new technology

If appropriate solutions can be found, which are non-technical, then that's great. But let's also examine if people can be quickly enabled to use technology by tackling the two obstacles above.

#enable #connect #empower

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Natasha Howard 6 months ago

This is a really helpful way of breaking it down Mike, thank you!

And absolutely - you've hit the nail on the head there! In the work that we do, we ensure that any solution found must be based on what we hear from the people experiencing it, and developed with them. From this, we can get a deeper understanding of the challenges people are facing and why, and by working together, we can build something beneficial for the people that need it the most.

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Margaret Booth 6 months ago

One of the prohibitively expensive aspects of technology is WiFi access and it’s an ongoing expense. Perhaps a reduced rate for the isolated and vulnerable could be arranged by the government, or possibly Local Area Networks with limitations on internet access set up by local authorities.
Another aspect that needs to be considered is the variation in cognitive ability over time. A solution needs to be useful for a number of years or the effort and expense will not be worthwhile. Therefore the design needs to be intuitive or reflective of early learned behaviour., as well as addressing possible sensory deficiencies.

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Natasha Howard 6 months ago

Some really important points and ideas here Margaret, thanks for sharing these!

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Jennifer Bute 6 months ago

I find in my Dementia inclusive village where we are all in lockdown I am still able to encourage those who do not have email etc by posting my JMG booklets through their doors twice a week instead of waiting for them to come to the group in the communal lounge and they are being much appreciated and the lost of members os growing slowly!

Also our Poetry group are exchanging poems by email if possible, but for those who cannot I am printing them out and posting them through their doors.

Then for Easter I am making up packs of a Christmas cracker and a bag of small easter eggs for everyone in my JMG group ( about 30) ( after all easter is the reason for Christmas! )

I can not do phone calls but k doing the best aI can!

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Natasha Howard 6 months ago

Thanks for this Jennifer and for sharing such kind and helpful ways to support others through this challenging time! And thank you for also highlighting how phone calls may work better for some people but are not for everyone.

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Jecarisa 6 months ago

Phone calls are a life line, before lock down I put a card with my contact details through the doors of all the houses in my close, I laminated so it could be wiped clean.
I have heard back from a few people and two in particular who phoned me as they don't do text or e mail. When I have phone them each week they were delighted to hear from me even though they do not know me .
Also what about a postcard ? Is it just me but isn't it still exciting to get a and written letter or postcard? Is this something we could be doing I wonder.

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Natasha Howard 6 months ago

Thanks for sharing these great ideas - for those you have been doing in practice and the impact it is making, and the other suggestions too!

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Chris Maddocks 6 months ago

Hi Natasha, I think you need to find out what the individual's interests are and then obtain packs that can be sent to them, e.g jigsaw puzzles, drawing / colouring books and pencils. Maybe get some sunflower seeds, a pot and compost so they can watch them grow. I heard of one volunteer that visited a person living on heir own with dementia, this person loved dogs. So the volunteer got a 3 metre expandable lead, walked around to their house and the person was able to stroke and interact with the dog whilst the owner was at a safe distance. This made a huge difference to the person.
Make sure the person has access to food and medication. Visit them and keep your distance. Smile and be kind, these cost nothing but mean a lot. A person living with dementia may not remember what they did or who they saw or showed a kind deed to them but they will always remember how you made them feel.

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Nicola Hart 6 months ago

Innovations in Dementia are creating a series of videos for people with dementia to help them to set up and use different technology. The first video explains how to set up Zoom on an iphone: There will be a new one released today on how to accept invitations to meetings and how to use Zoom controls.

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