The New Link Between Technology and Older Australians
YourLink builds digital confidence so that more people can use online services, more of the time. We partner with organisations like care providers and retirement villages to provide digital skills programs so that seniors, carers and the workforce feel independent and more confident using devices.
What is this thing called Digital Confidence?
With the pace of digital change that has swept across all parts of how we live, communicate and access services, there are many people being left behind, particularly people that are older. That’s where YourLink comes in. YourLink builds digital confidence so that more people can use online services and are socially connected, more of the time.
We partner with organisations like care providers and retirement villages to provide digital skills programs so that seniors, carers and the workforce feel independent and more confident using devices. Some of these organisations include the Australian Red Cross, Catholic Healthcare, Adssi Limited, Carers NSW and BallyCara.
We thought it would be fun to explore what digital confidence means using the voice of the 4,500 seniors, carers and care workers we’ve trained over the past couple of years.
One of the key barriers to digital learning is fear — not just of the devices they are being asked to use, but also of the consequences if they ‘get something wrong’. Unhelpful media reinforces messages around security threats and scams, which is even more unsettling for the vulnerable in our communities. These messages are amplified when you add in unfamiliar technology, combined with anxiety around learning again and looking ‘foolish or silly’ in front of others.
Where does confidence come from?
Building confidence comes from meeting those involved in learning where they are and taking them to where we need them to be. We use welcome sessions with digital coaches to get people logged in and make sure they are comfortable to join a Zoom call for the actual training (if it’s virtual) or are ready for face-to-face workshops. Understanding the personal motivation for
the training is also key, so they can really engage around the content they most value in the sessions, creating a strong connection between them and their device.
Taking the first step - One of our 87-year-old participants couldn’t have said it better. After nearly 30 minutes of working through the welcome sessions she said: “I am going to take charge of this thing now”. She went on, “I kept putting this call off because I didn’t want to be embarrassed by what I didn’t know, but you’ve helped me to take that first step”.
Building confidence … step by step
The outcome from digital training is digital confidence and independence of those whom we train. The ultimate goal is for each participant to problem solve for themselves with their devices — if something doesn’t work the first time, they know the options they have available.
Our experience has led us to focus on the 0-to-1 in terms of content — establishing the basics as the foundations for future use. At the heart of this is creating a learning environment that is respectful and supportive that enables participants to have fun as we go, growing in confidence as they learn.
In a recent workshop with 25 care workers, it was great to see them helping each other when something didn’t make sense or didn’t work. That is digital confidence, not only being able to problem solve for yourself but to help someone else solve an issue.
Checking back into life - One of the most heartfelt stories we heard from one of our digital coaches recently was about an 80-year-old woman who had recently lost her husband of over 50 years. “I realised I had been isolating myself and had dropped out of life”, she said in our feedback call with her. Having completed a program of five training sessions and feeling digitally confident, she was sharing how she had started having Zoom calls with friends, listening to classical music online, following her favourite gardening tips and setting up social events. “I am feeling so much more connected again, thank you — you’ve changed my life”.
If you think yourself, or someone close to you, may benefit from feeling more confident when using technology - Register NOW for the next Over 55's Technology and Tea Event at Harbord Diggers on Friday October 21st - 11am to 2pm. This session will focus on Chromebooks, online safety and apps.