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Carers UK has published a new best practice guide setting out ways organisations can best support older carers who do not have access to the internet.

As more services move online, being ‘digitally included’ is no longer just about having an internet connection, a device and some basic digital skills: it is about being able to do a range of activities, from accessing health information to communicating with family.

Ofcom research shows that those over 75 are most likely to be offline, with 26% of this group without internet access at home. A survey by Carers UK with organisations supporting older carers, such as local carers organisations and local charities, found that there are a number of issues faced by older carers who are digitally excluded, including loneliness and isolation (83%), followed by not receiving sufficient or appropriate support from support services (80%).

The survey found that the main barriers faced by older carers in accessing technology were a lack of confidence (88%), followed by a preference for non-digital communication (87%) and a lack of knowledge about how to use technology (83%).

The best practice guide recommends organisations providing services consider carers’ needs when it comes to accessing technology, providing training and support to help carers use it, providing carers with devices and data, improving the accessibility of online support services, as well as offering non-digital support options, such as face-to-face interactions and printed materials.

Helen Walker, chief executive at Carers UK, said:

“Older carers who are digitally excluded are at risk of being left behind, unable to make the most of new products and services and the benefits that digital technology can bring.

“Organisations and services supporting carers have an important role to play assisting them with accessing online services, as well as providing non-digital support where it is needed. We hope our best practice guide shines a light on how this can be done well.”

Read Carers UK’s best practice briefing.

This work is funded by the Covid 19 Support Fund’s “Making Carers Count” project, run by Carers UK in partnership with Carers Trust. This part of the three-year project seeks to understand the experiences of four traditionally under-represented groups of carers both during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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