Reconnecting older residents in East Suffolk

East Suffolk Council is continuing to trial a scheme which helps reconnect older residents who may need support due to social isolation.

The East Suffolk Grandpad Loan Scheme is aimed at tackling social isolation amongst older residents or those who struggle to use technology, particularly those who have little or no contact with loved ones or the outside world due to a lack of Wi-Fi, equipment and/or skills.

Initially launched in July 2020, the Council has now been able to extend the scheme for another 12 months thanks to funding from 11 East Suffolk Councillor’s Enabling Communities Budgets, Councillor Steve Whiles’ Suffolk County Council Locality Budget, Government Covid funding, East Suffolk Council’s Covid Community Recovery Fund, the Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG Prevention Fund and the East Suffolk Community Partnership Board.

Grandpads have been specifically designed around the need of older adults, and the large buttons and intuitive operating system make it easy for older people to use the device to connect with loved ones and the outside world without the complicated features of other tablets.

A total of 175 Grandpads are now available and will be lent (free of charge) to older residents across the district who have been identified as being socially isolated. The devices include unlimited 4G internet, 24/7 personalised support and unlimited minutes, so users can easily make phone calls at no extra costs.

Once the extended trial period ends, East Suffolk Council will evaluate it fully to determine its success and whether residents will benefit from the scheme being rolled out across the district if additional funding can be secured.

Cllr Letitia Smith, East Suffolk’s Cabinet Member for Communities, Leisure and Tourism, said: “Following the success of the initial trial, we’re really pleased to be able to extend the Grandpad scheme to even more residents across East Suffolk. Many older people have little or no experience with technology, but this shouldn’t mean that they are excluded from the many benefits it can offer, such as keeping connected with loved ones, accessing health services and online shopping.”

Cllr Stephen Burroughes, East Suffolk’s Cabinet Member for Customer Services, ICT and Commercial Partnerships, said: “As the lead for the Council’s Digital programmes, I am really pleased that we’re now able to offer even more people access to a Grandpad, which opens up a whole new world of opportunities for them. The scheme enables users to access a whole range of things online safe in the knowledge that the device can be trusted and that only trusted contacts can communicate with them.”

Louise Hardwick, Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, Head of Partnerships and Alliance Delivery, said: “There is strong evidence that loneliness and social isolation can have an adverse impact on people’s physical and mental wellbeing, with an increased risk of dementia, heart disease and stroke, as well as heightened rates of depression and anxiety. It’s important we do all we can to support people in living a happy and fulfilled life. The Grandpads initiative is an excellent example of partnership working, with local organisations coming together to enhance the later life living experience of people in East Suffolk.”

Do you know someone who would benefit from a Grandpad? If you would like to nominate someone or would like more information, please email or call 01502 523119.

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