Harry’s story: using technology to keep in touch

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Sanctuary Care resident Harry Dye, catching up with emails on his laptop.

In a world where the popularity of digital technology is ever on the rise, we believe it’s really important for Sanctuary Care residents to feel included in the digital revolution.

Digital exclusion in the elderly can arguably lead to feelings of isolation; a study published by Digital Unite in July 2014 showed that 86% of internet users over the age of 55 say that having access to computers and the web has improved their life.

We encourage the use of technology in all of our care homes, with most Sanctuary Care homes now having access to wi-fi, at least one computer for residents, laptops, iPads and more.

Meet Harry Dye, 90, a resident from our Hatfield Residential and Nursing Home who is more than confident with using modern technology and believes it has enhanced his life at the care home.

“I have a laptop and an iPad and I love using them both,” Harry says. “The team at Hatfield have helped me get set up on them and shown me what to do - I can use them for all sorts.”

Every morning after breakfast Harry checks his Gmail account for e-mails from loved ones, either using his laptop or the care home’s PC. He’ll then have a read of his favourite online newspaper Mail Online – “it’s good, you can read news as it happens now” -  before checking his Facebook page, where he is proud to have over 100 Facebook friends.

“I like Facebook,” Harry explains. “It’s very useful. I can see what all of my family and friends are getting up to, especially the young ones. You can see photos and all sorts. I’ve got a photo of me during the war on my profile so it’s a nice way to share my history with others.”

Every week Harry enjoys a Skype session, or occasionally FaceTime using his iPad, with his grandson James, who is serving with the British Army in Afghanistan, and his daughter Janet who lives in New Zealand.

As well as using technology to help him communicate, Harry loves watching films on his iPad, explaining: “it’s so easy to use – and any film you want, you can get it on the iPad.”

Harry also watches videos on YouTube, creates digital photo albums and uses Google Earth and Google Maps to travel the world virtually. Harry especially likes looking at Kaipara in New Zealand, where his daughter lives, and Mill Hill in North London, where he lived before moving to Hatfield.

His favourite past-time, though, is re-visiting the taxi routes he used to take when he was a London cabbie up until retirement. “It’s interesting seeing how much has changed since then,” Harry says.

“Having a laptop and iPad really makes life a lot better and a lot easier,” Harry explains. “It keeps me out of trouble, for one! But it also helps me keep up to date with what’s going on in the world and stay in touch with my friends and family. I feel very lucky to be able to do that. Resident Harry Dye, 90, with his laptop.

“My family are very impressed that I can contact them all the way across the world with no assistance. They’re proud of me.”

David Callan, activities leader at the care home, is one of several members of staff who has helped Harry get to grips with technology and says it’s great watching residents thrive in the digital age.

“Giving our residents access to technology is really important to us at Hatfield,” he says. “It promotes independence and gives them confidence. Many approach technology with trepidation but often once our residents find out they can use the computer to look at something from their life history, they often become more engaged. They love looking at places they used to live or visit on Google Earth or reading old news stories from days gone by.

“Times are changing and we feel that rather than residents being intimidated by something new, with the right guidance they can learn to love it – just look at Harry and his love of all things tech-related.”

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