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TAPPI Case Study: Meet Dennis

As part of the TAPPI project, currently underway at Llys Y Werin, our Extra Care service in Gorseinon, we sat down with 90 year old Dennis to find out what technology means to him in his everyday life and how he feels he could benefit from it going forward.

The Technology for our Ageing Population: Panel for Innovation (TAPPI) project aims to improve the way technology is used in housing and care for older people. Led by the Housing Learning and Improvement Network (Housing LIN), the TEC Services Association (TSA) and funded by The Dunhill Medical Trust, TAPPI seeks to address the opportunity that technology has to enhance the lives of our ageing population and the barriers that prevent its adoption.

So how does Dennis feel about technology and is he aware of how it could allow him to feel more independent? We wanted to get a bit of background…

Dennis told us that he has lived at Llys Y Werin for the past 5 years, having moved from his family home which is just half a mile away.

He said, “I lost my wife 23 years ago and lived on my own for a long time, but my mobility was getting worse and after a family meeting, my step-daughter suggested that I should come to live here.”

It was obviously a good idea, as Dennis added, “After a few weeks, I wished I’d come here sooner!”

Dennis spent his working life as a fitter, working predominantly on buses and lorries. He describes himself as very practical and says he can turn his hand to most things. However, a lifetime of heavy lifting and manual tasks in his job has meant that his body has suffered. Dennis says, “I have trapped nerves and osteoarthritis. I have little control of my left leg and I’m waiting for shoulder surgery.”

This makes for a difficult time doing daily chores. Dennis says, “My mobility makes hard work of everything, every day – cleaning, making food, washing clothes. I’m proud that I manage it, but I have to use a scooter and a trolley to be able to get everywhere around the building, carrying things.”

With his challenges in mind, we started to wonder how technology could help Dennis and how confident he would be with using it.

Dennis said, “Technology is big for me – lots of elderly people can’t even use their phones, but I’ve done some training on computers and I would describe myself as computer literate.”

Dennis uses online banking and orders groceries online. He emails friends and family and is very aware of cyber security. He says, “I have a computer, a mobile phone, a tablet and a Kindle. I can’t use the Kindle anymore, however, as I have cataracts and my eyesight is getting worse.”

Dennis is persevering with technology despite his eyesight problems though. He says, “I’d say my computer is my favourite piece of technology. I use it for shopping, keeping in touch with people and I also use Google a lot, if there’s something I’m interested in.”

When we asked Dennis what kind of things he Googles, he said, “Music – music is a massive thing for me. I prefer to listen to music than watch the TV.”

With this in mind, we suggested that Dennis might like to trial a Smart Speaker.

Dennis wasn’t sure at first but when we explained what it could do, he was more keen.

He said, “classical music is my thing – I’m definitely interested to know more…”

Overall, Dennis is a great example of an individual who utilises technology and isn’t afraid to use it. He says, “I keep telling as many elderly people as I can to stick with technology and learn. We’ll soon be relying on it completely – so I preach not only to older people but young people too!”

The next steps for Dennis, as part of the TAPPI project, is to introduce him to a Smart Speaker. Pobl’s Assistive Technology and Inclusion Officer, Lynne, is already on the case – and she is also looking for other solutions which might aid Dennis in terms of his mobility and helping him to stay as independent as possible, for as long as possible.