With Wi-Fi in most of its homes, Sanctuary Care supports its rising generation of ‘social seniors’, helping them to use technology to stay connected. One of these is 83-year-old resident Jean Edwards, who lives at Lake View Residential Care Home in Telford. Jean has used Facebook for more than 10 years. She uses it every day and says she would be absolutely “lost without it”.
She said: “I use Facebook to keep in touch with family, to see their photographs and share family information. It is important to help me stay in touch with people and you can get information so quickly.”
Jean, who has around 20 Facebook friends, joked when asked what she posts on Facebook, saying “gossip” because she is “nosey!” She added;
“I would feel really out of it if I didn’t have Facebook. I wouldn’t always know what was going on.”
Although she appreciates not everyone her age is as confident as she is using modern technology, Jean says she would happily show her fellow residents how to use Facebook if they wanted to give it a go.
“People can find it intimidating but I would encourage them to use it,” she said.
The rise of social seniors
Also living at Lake View, June Davenport first used a computer because her late husband tried to buy her a typewriter for her creative writing class but was unable to find one.
She went to a class to learn the basics and then got an email account. She has never looked back and has sparked a new friendship via email with lady who lives in Australia at Ozcare’s Burleigh Heads Aged Care Facility.
The friendship started when Lake View staff approached care organisations in different countries to see if they had any residents who would like to be pen/email friends with theirs.
June said: “When I was asked if I would be interested in having a penfriend in Australia, I couldn’t believe my ears (I am a bit deaf)! After a couple of weeks, I received a delightful reply with photos from a lady called Jill. Not bad when we are both in our eighties, she is 80 and me, well I am 86!”
Jill, who does not use email and writes her letters to be scanned across, says of June’s tech-savvy knowledge: “June is one to admire with the way she is so independent and embracing the technology of today.”
WhatsApp is proving to be a popular app being used in Sanctuary Care’s homes to help residents to stay connected with loved ones. 89-year-old Olly lives at Brambles Residential Care Home in Redditch. Olly moved from her home in Scarborough to Brambles to be closer to her youngest son, James – but what she didn’t know was that it would actually bring her closer to family further afield, thanks to modern technology.
Living a short distance from Brambles, James and his family visit regularly and have set up a WhatsApp group called ‘Granny Updates’ as a way to keep family who live further afield updated. They regularly share posts about how Olly is as well as sending photos and selfies.
Granddaughter Sophie Middleton explains: “Setting up a group on WhatsApp helps keeps the family closer together – it is a two way thing. Family who can’t just pop in can see how she is in herself, while also sharing happy news – plus Granny is seeing more photos than ever before as it’s instant. The notifications really brighten up her day.”
Taking part in online mass
Also at Brambles, the residents have been enjoying online mass every Sunday with a church in Merseyside. The services are captivating and even the residents who are not Catholics love to take part.
Resident Anna Vasic, who is 87 years old and went to a Catholic church in her home country of Italy, said of the services: “It is so lovely because for a long time I haven’t seen someone preach and I am very much looking forward to the next one.