Stirling launches toolkit to help people deal with isolation

Experts from the University of Stirling have launched a new toolkit providing guidance on the role technology can play in combating feelings of isolation among older people.

The Technology and Social Connectedness toolkit provides guidance for individuals and organisations using technology to connect older people with others. It’s particularly applicable at this time when older people are at greater risk of social isolation due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

Dr Louise McCabe, of the University’s Faculty of Social Sciences and project lead, said:

“There can often be a broad assumption that older people don’t like or can’t use technology but that certainly isn’t something which came through during our research – we found that people’s attitudes are much more individual.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have seen examples of underlying ageism reflected in responses to the virus, so it is important that we do not exacerbate the already heightened risk of social isolation facing older people. It is vital that service providers and individuals do all that they can to ensure older people do not suffer loss of their social connections during the pandemic and in its aftermath.”

The toolkit has three main parts: a ‘how to’ guide focusing on who, what, why and how a service or project might be set up; a series of three case studies; and access to the evidence that underpins this work. There’s also recommended online resources for those interested in using technology for care and support.

Dr McCabe has also prepared a bite-sized lecture on supporting social connectedness in the context of COVID-19. She argues that the lockdown, the shielding and the social distancing have all got a significant risk within them that older people will become more socially isolated and under higher risk of loneliness. You can watch the lecture here.