Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Launch of Seniors Can Connect! programs provide training and technology to break down barriers of isolation and loneliness for older Canadians.
Older people in Canada face isolation and loneliness every day, something COVID-19 has given many of us a taste of. In recent weeks, we have awakened to the knowledge that seniors face serious barriers to participating in communities and their experience of quarantine has created inhumane conditions for many, often facing the palliative journey alone.
HelpAge Canada and Connected Canadians are collaborating on two new technology programs for older Canadians to give them access and support. The Seniors Can Connect! programs are designed to help seniors across Canada connect with loved ones and communities with the help of technology.
Seniors Can Connect! Toll-Free Technology Support Hotline This hotline provides free training and support for seniors on the devices they currently own. Volunteer technical mentors, who work in multiple languages, are trained to provide IT support and call center assistance to seniors. (This program will be launched initially in Ontario and Eastern Quebec.)
Seniors Can Connect! Tablet Lending Program This program loans communication devices, such as tablets, to Canadian seniors who otherwise would not have access to them. These devices allow seniors to communicate with their loved ones and the outside world. (Currently, we work with local community partners in the Ottawa area.)
“Senior isolation and loneliness is a crippling reality that the Seniors Can Connect! Program faces straight on by connecting older people to their loved ones, their community and providing access to the world. All people need to know they are loved and belong.”
Gregor Sneddon, Executive Director, HelpAge Canada.
Connected Canadians is a federally incorporated non-profit organization based in Ottawa, with a mandate to connect older adults with free technology training and support. Many Connected Canadians volunteers are new Canadians who are highly skilled technology workers who, collectively, speak 12 languages. Volunteers benefit from the cultural awareness and conversational practice opportunities that come from their interaction with clients, and clients feel a sense of pride and connection in helping to welcome newcomers into the community.
“Although technology with no human connection offers little, technology that’s used to directly enable human connections can make a world of difference—especially to those enduring isolation and loneliness. That’s why all Connected Canadians’ programming has improved human connection as it’s driving force. Our mission is based on the simple truths that people need other people and that digital literacy is essential for engagement in today’s world.”
Emily Jones Joanisse, CEO, Connected Canadians