iPad program to reduce seniors’ isolation

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This article was published 07/08/2020 (737 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Seniors suffering from social isolation in south Winnipeg can apply for a program that gives them an iPad tablet, paid internet and training in digital literacy.

The Social Inclusion and Digital Literacy (SIDL) program, recently launched by the South Winnipeg Seniors’ Resource Council (SWSRC), is aimed at vulnerable seniors experiencing loneliness due to the pandemic precautions that are keeping them isolated at home.

Funding for the program, which covers the cost of a dozen iPads, basic internet for six months, and training, came from the federal government’s emergency community support fund.

Sou'wester Martin Landy holds an iPad at the South Winnipeg Seniors Resource Council office at the Riverview Health Centre.

“Seniors who can’t leave their homes are experiencing depression due to the lack of social interaction,” SWSRC coordinator Martin Landy said. “By training seniors in the use of digital technology, we’re opening up a world where they can connect with people online. An iPad allows them to use Facetime to talk with relatives and friends, lets them watch videos, take part in exercises, read books, order groceries or do their banking and set up medical appointments.”

Preference will be given to people living in Charleswood, Crescentwood, Fort Rouge, Lord Roberts, Osborne Village, River Heights, Riverview and Tuxedo. Applicants must be living alone and be over 70 years of age.

Applications are being taken until the end of August, with interviews scheduled for September to select seniors for the program.

“We’re looking for people who are completely isolated, perhaps due to a compromised immune system, are disabled, those who have no relatives or friends to call upon for company, and those who can’t afford the technology or internet,” Landy said. “We fully expect we’ll get more applications than we have iPads.”

Training will begin in October, after the dozen seniors have been chosen. Each person must be comfortable having a trainer come into their home, as the program features one-on-one training with a client support specialist. The program will install a wifi router in each person’s home or add it to their current television package.

iPads were chosen for their ease of use, including a touch screen, adjustable icon and font sizes, and for their general durability.

“Our vision is that all older Canadians are empowered to use digital technology safely and effectively to enhance their quality of life and their engagement with others,” Landy said. “By providing digital literacy skills and technology training, we strive to reduce isolation and loneliness and increase confidence and well-being among older adults in our communities.”

Once the six-month program is finished in March 2021, there will be an opportunity for each person to purchase their iPad at a reduced cost. Funds from this will allows SWSRC to purchase further tablets, to keep the program running, Landy said.

“We know that many seniors aren’t connected to the digital world, so once the people in the program learn to use their iPads, we know we can help them in other ways,” he said.

The program is also seeking volunteers who will act as training buddies, who will help between the formal training sessions.

Applications for the SIDL program are being taken until the end of August. These are available by calling the SWSRC at 204-478-6169, sending an email to resources@swsrc.ca or by letter to SWSRC at 117 – 1 Morley Ave., Winnipeg, Man., R3L 2P4 (postmarked by Aug. 21). The applications can also be picked up and dropped off at the front door of Riverview Health Centre at 1 Morley Ave.

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