Like many organisations, the York Community Resource Centre in Western Australia was closed to the public for 8 weeks due to COVID-19 restrictions. The centre is a hub for the York community, and the closure left many community members feeling isolated and disconnected from their friends and family.
Robyn Garratt, Coordinator at York CRC, says, “We had numerous phone calls daily from those vulnerable community members who needed some social outreach. We are the lifeline for a lot of our elderly community members, so at least we are still here at the end of the phone even if we're unable to have them here in person.”
After receiving a Be Connected Digital Devices grant to purchase iPads to loan out to isolated members of their community (pictured above), Robyn says the response from the community has been overwhelming. “Once we announced that we had received the devices, our phones were ringing off the hook for people to start borrowing them. It’s such a humbling experience to be able to visit a senior and drop them a device, knowing it will be the key to them sharing moments with loved ones that they were unable to do so for almost two months.”
One of those seniors was Val Menezes, who was taking Be Connected technology lessons at the centre before the closure paused the classes.
Val is now using a borrowed iPad at home to keep in touch with her daughter, who recently moved out of the cottage behind her. She’s also keeping up to date with friends on Facebook and connecting with her grandchildren using video calling.
Other community members are praising the iPads for keeping in touch with their families overseas.
“I was able to join a zoom party with my family from the UK and see my newest grandchild for the first time. It was such a clear view as well, so I felt like I was sitting right there in the room,” says one senior. “If we are online, it means we aren’t just sitting around bored or thinking about being old, we can still be a part of the community or a part of our friends and families lives. It also keeps our minds active.”
“I have an elderly parent that I have been unable to see in her nursing home, but having the device meant I could chat to her daily,” adds another.
Robyn says they’re still having a great response to the loaned devices, even though the centre is now open to the public. “A lot of seniors are still not comfortable coming out into the public, or accessing the public computers here at the centre regardless of how many times a day we are sanitising them.”
Borrowing devices not only allow the York community to connect with technology from the safety of their homes but also gives them the chance to ‘try before they buy’. “Many people have loved the fact that they can get a feel for the device before purchasing their own, so when they do get the chance to buy one, they already know how to use it to communicate with their families,” Robyn adds.
Val (pictured above) is again starting to receive support for her iPad in person now that the centre is open. When asked what advice she’d give to seniors who are hesitant to start using technology, she said, “Age is no restriction. Who would have thought I could learn how to use an iPad! I am now connected to the wonderful wide world via technology.”
If you’re in the York area and are interested in borrowing a device or would like information about other programs they’re running, you can pop in for a visit or give them a call on (08) 9641 2328.