‘Older people in care homes and sheltered accommodation are widening their horizons using the latest computer technology, thanks to University of Leicester student volunteers, working with Learning for the Fourth Age (L4A).
Using iPads, computers and laptops supplied by L4A, the students work with residents to link them up with the Internet and new media, training residents how to use the equipment and training care staff how to support the residents.
Enthusiastic residents have learned how to communicate with the wider world of emails, Skype, YouTube, Google, podcasts, Spotify, e-learning packages, iPlayer and Wii.
One resident commented: “I look forward to Thursday mornings, when members of L4A visit and talk to each of us, helping us to take an interest in all sorts of things, bringing computers, iPad, books and suggesting what we might do to add interest to our lives.
“I decided that I might like to do computer work so every Thursday morning I go to the dining room where there is a laptop computer and I get help to do word processing and other tasks, such as email. I have an email address so I email families and friends. This helps me to keep in touch.
“In the weeks before Christmas, I made a movie about my life, including introducing the other residents. We showed the finished film in the lounge and it caused some real interest.
“These Thursday mornings have been valuable to me. They have been interesting, and it has kept my mind working. They’ve also renewed some of my confidence. I’m grateful to Learning for the Fourth Age for this opportunity.”
The Leicester students and other volunteers, work at fifteen care settings on placements of two-three hours per week to deliver the sessions. Some students undertake more than one placement.
The project is part of a larger initiative from L4A, which University of Leicester students have been supporting for more than three years to introduce learning to care homes, teaching a variety of topics, including languages, computing, art and history on a one-to-one basis.
Everyone is a winner in the scheme, which boosts the confidence of care home residents and provides companionship and a great sense of achievement.
Student volunteers receive training and support from L4A and the University of Leicester volunteering team. Formal recognition for their volunteering work is listed on their degree transcript through the Leicester Award for Community Engagement, and some of them have gone on to jobs in social work, teaching, nursing and charity work as a result of their work as volunteers.
Katherine Horrocks, a first year History student at the University has been volunteering with L4A since March and goes to Aigburth care home on a weekly basis.
She commented: “Since I began volunteering, some of the elderly people that I work with have started to become much more mentally aware. It is a fantastic feeling to know that just a few hours of my time can provide a better quality of living and I have made some great friends in the process”.
Notes to Editors: Further details are available from Vanessa Harris, Volunteer Development Manager, University of Leicester, tel 0116 252 3890, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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