The 100% Digital Leeds team are using digital tools and technology to prevent the most vulnerable in society from falling off the radar of the organisations that support them. Anyone who is digitally excluded is also at risk of increased isolation during the current crisis. This includes older people, those with long-term health conditions, people with mental health issues, those with physical and learning disabilities, those who do not speak English, people living in poverty and those at risk of homelessness. Digital inclusion can help to combat loneliness, ensure people are aware of the COVID-19 guidelines, be signposted to the range of other services that can help them and have access to healthcare self-management tools.
Many of the partners that we support have specialist skills and knowledge that makes them the only organisation that can properly support their vulnerable service users.
We are making sure that our partners have the tools to connect with and support their service users to be more independent and live better lives. This prevents the most vulnerable in our society from having to rely on costly interventions from already stretched services like the NHS, in the current pandemic and afterwards.
Priority activity for the 100% Digital Leeds team:
Widening Digital Participation Dementia Pathfinder: The final report for our dementia pathfinder project has been published on Good Things Foundation’s digital health lab website, along with How To… guides and case studies. We now have 100 Alexa Show devices that we are lending to a range of organisations, including health and care settings.
Digital inclusion for specific audiences: Following the success of the webinars delivered during Leeds Digital Festival (see below) we are delivering four webinars in partnership with Co>Space North and mHabitat. Each of the webinars looks at digital inclusion in a specific context: supporting mental health and wellbeing; supporting people with learning disabilities; supporting speakers of other languages and supporting older people. Slides and recordings are available to view after the sessions. A further session supporting people with sensory impairments is in development.
Leeds Digital Festival: Delivering two events on 27 April in partnership with Co>Space North and mHabitat. The first event, Supporting digital inclusion in the face of COVID-19, introduces the 100% Digital Leeds team and demonstrate how we can help to improve the digital inclusion of organisations and service users. We do this by building digital skills and confidence, offering access to equipment, raising awareness of funding opportunities and free online tools and resources that can help motivate people to engage with digital. The second event, Person-centred care in the digital age, focuses on the fact that many people who would benefit most from accessing online tools to self-manage their conditions are the least likely to have the skills, access and motivation to do so. Using myCOPD as a case study, this event explores how barriers to self-management apps can be addressed through digital inclusion and how peer support groups have adapted their services in the face of COVID-19. We have uploaded the slides and presentations from our Digital Festival events.
Administer grants scheme for the 100% Digital Leeds COVID-19 Fund: Grants we made available for digital equipment, data and connectivity to support third sector organisations in Leeds. Priority was given to organisations working with those groups identified as ‘Communities of Interest’ who may experience additional barriers to staying connected and digitally included. To ensure that information and support continues to reach these groups during this time, it is intended that these grants be used to support adults and that there will be a strong link to improving people’s health and wellbeing in terms of the resource applied for.
We had over 150 applications to this fund and the total value of bids received was over £130,000. This was far in excess of the funding available and demonstrated the need across the third sector. We are working with colleagues in the council and elsewhere to secure additional funding. We are also talking to the organisations who applied to see if we can support them with iPads from our tablet lending scheme.
Support partners to adapt their services to be delivered remotely: thinking about how things could be done differently and more effectively using digital; helping navigate a range of digital tools to ensure partners are able to connect with their services users and work from home; developing organisational digital skills and confidence; signposting to free online training and support from other organisations.
Support organisational access to equipment and connectivity: connecting with council colleagues and Third Sector partners to coordinate requests for equipment that will allow organisations to continue to deliver their services. Distributing iPads from our tablet lending scheme to organisations and groups (where and when we can whilst following social distancing guidelines). Mapping out who needs devices and managing requests.
Support individuals’ access to digital equipment and connectivity: COVID-19 has highlighted levels of exclusion and demonstrated how vulnerable people without a strong support network are even more at risk if they cannot access digital tools. Many of our partners are now auditing the digital access of their members and are looking for ways to support those who cannot afford devices or connectivity. Many of these service users would have previously relied on free Wi-Fi in council buildings, libraries, cafes, bars and other public buildings that are no longer accessible. We are working with partners to map need and look at how the council can meet that need. We may adapt and develop our existing Tablet Lending Scheme and we are also working with the Smart Leeds team to extend our dementia pathfinder and make Alexa devices available for loan.
Facilitating the implementation and adoption of NHS self-management tools with practitioners and patients: Tools such as the myCOPD app ensure individuals with long-term conditions can better manage their conditions whilst access to support via GP and peer support groups is limited. Implementation of myCOPD app through Primary Care Networks, delivering virtual e-training for practice staff to set up the app, enabling practices to issue the app to vulnerable patients who are self-isolating. Working with My mHealth to develop case studies and user feedback on the myCOPD app.
Ensure quick and accurate signposting to resources: Organisations are adapting their services at such a rate that it is difficult for partners and organisations to signpost to services and provision. The digital inclusion team are working with partners to map changes to online provision and ensure that volunteers from across all partners have access to accurate signposting information so that they can easily support service users to make the most of digital to stay informed, connected and healthy. This has been done in partnership with Leeds Directory, Voluntary Action Leeds and other council departments wanting to highlight resources for community volunteers and the third sector.
Share learning and best practice: partners are looking to work flexibly but are adapting at different rates according to capacity, skills and confidence. By gathering and sharing best practice examples via blogposts we can help partners to adapt more quickly. After a number of enquiries from Local Authorities and other organisations looking to develop Tablet Lending Schemes we are developing a webinar to share learning from the implementation of the 100% Digital Leeds scheme.
Facilitating the implementation and adoption of remote access to healthcare with practitioners and patients: Developing e-learning tools for the NHS app and remote consultation methods for GP practices to enable greater access to healthcare in the current situation. Working with specific practices to lead by example for embedding digital inclusion support into patient calls.
Reconfigure our Digital Champions Training: to be delivered via video conferencing allowing us to continue to deliver the training throughout this period of social isolation; meeting the increased need for Digital Champions in the community; adapting the content to current need and including training on how to offer telephone support to those with low digital skills and confidence and effective signposting to changing services and provision.
Highlight eSafety as partners adopt new tools: As partners rush to use new tools to deliver their services differently a number of eSafety concerns have arisen from said partners and in the media. We are currently writing a blogpost pulling these concerns together and signposting to eSafety advice.
Facilitate organisational partnerships: As we speak to partners we are helping them to connect with other organisations to work on shared outcomes and resources. For example, through talking to partners we have identified a shared need for video conferencing support tools in translation and as a result have connected an organisation who have made great instructional videos with an organisation with staff who speak multiple languages. They are working together to record and overlay audio tracks in other languages and embed subtitles in various languages.
Support Local Care Partnership adoption of digital to improve self-management and personalised care for high risk groups: Conversations with LCPs to support their priorities around self-management/personalised care using digital. Supporting the need across Primary Care in priority areas and working with the LCP team to identify at risk groups that need digital inclusion support. Connecting with the Social Prescribing team to enable wider access to online consultations and NHS online resources.