Being social with touchscreen technology

Touchscreen Technology (Tablet PCs and Smartphones) can open up a whole new world for care home residents, here's some links to get started

(Photo: Connecting Care)

Unlike a traditional desktop PC or even a laptop, a tablet PC provides a much more 'social' experience of the web. The person using it doesn't have to be at a desk with their own keyboard and mouse as they can pass the tablet around sharing stories, pictures and reliving memories. With a tablet there is a lot less to worry about on the technical side as software and program updates are less intrusive and the interface is just a simple 'swipe' or 'tap' to control. 

They are great for art based activities using simple drawing & painting apps, for reminiscence using maps and on-line video and pictures or by using puzzles or specific 'brain-training' apps to remain alert. With tablet PCs starting from around £70, the time is right to try one out in your care environment.

Technology and digital inclusion is about ensuring that people living in later life can make the best use of today’s modern technology to increase their quality of life and experience the socially inclusive benefits it offers. To get you started this article pulls together some of the best resources and background information on getting started with this form of technology.

Organisations with background information

Digital Unite Guides

These guides provide clear, intelligible answers, along with step-by-step guides to choosing the right smartphone or tablet for you and getting the most out of it. See more at: http://digitalunite.com/guides/smartphones-tablets

Learn My Way

This free on-line tutorial is part of the Online Basics set of courses. It uses simple step-by-step instructions to help novice users of tablet devices to get to grips with the basic 'swiping' and 'tapping' functions of their device.

Age UK

Age UK have a helpful section on their website which explains about computers and technology together with a page containing examples of how older people are using the internet. They have conducted research on digital inclusion in care homes.and have developed their own easy to use tablet PC. The Breezie is based on a Samsung Galaxy tablet with an easy to navigate interface and subscription to a services providing unlimited support and advice on getting the most from it.

My Aging Parent

The 'Tablets and Apps' section on this website is regularly updated with the latest news about Touchscreen Technology for older people and links to suitable apps you can download. It is part of a larger section on the website covering news and informationn about technology for older people.

Touchscreen computer projects

There are projects run by charities and organisations which are taking iPads and other Tablet PCs into care homes for residents to try out and to pursue their hobbies and interests:

iPad EngAGE

Creative engagement through digital inclusion, innovative thinking and curiosity is how the team at iPad EngAGE describe their work. Arts based apps and activities are used on the tablets they take into care homes to make links with the creativity of the people they work with. The website contains lots of ideas and inspiring stories about use of this technology.


The Memory Apps project from Alive has worked with over 200 care homes in the South West running sessions that help residents become familiar with a tablet device and find out what it can do for them. They also run training courses for care staff that explore the use of tablets in a care setting and suitable apps that bring the most benefit. The Memory Apps for Dementia website lists some of the apps that have proved useful when working with older people.

Using apps safely and securely on your touchscreen device

Most people are careful about websites they visit or programs that they download from their laptop or desktop computer. However smartphones and tablet PCs can present as many risks to security or exposure to inappropriate content if used irresponsibly. This guide to accessing apps safely is one of two from the ICO (Information Commissioner's Office). It explains the importance of checking for age-related content, only downloading from official sources and how to be wary of 'in-app' purchases.The second guide is about general smartphone safety and is downloadable here

If you know of other local initiatives that use Touchscreen Technology with older people please tell us in the comments below.

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