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TAPPI Case Study: Meet Terence

As part of the TAPPI project, currently underway at Llys Y Werin, our Extra Care service in Gorseinon, we sat down with 70 year old Terence to get an idea of how he uses technology currently and whether he could benefit from any other innovative gadgets.

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, let’s get some background on Terence and his opinion of technology… Terence is 70 years old and has lived at Llys Y Werin for almost 3 years, having moved from a neighbouring Extra Care service.

Terence explains, “I lived in my last place for 15 years and before that, I lived in my own home.

“My wife passed away in 1997 after 23 years of marriage and after some time living alone and with my MS getting worse, my son suggested I should move somewhere with support.”

Terence was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 24 years ago, after doctors initially thought he had suffered a stroke. He says, “I can’t get out and about much because of my mobility issues. I have to rely on other people a lot.”

This must be hugely frustrating for Terence, as he has lived a very interesting and colourful life. Before he retired, he worked as an electrician, spending some time on television sets, wiring the lighting, before going on to work on large refrigeration systems. He says, “I worked on Concorde at one point, running the wiring through the plane. I’ve had to be technologically minded due to the nature of my job – I’ve used it through all of my working life.”

However, Terence is also very aware of the pitfalls of technology. He explains, “I had trouble getting over the death of my wife and I started speaking to a woman online, through a bereavement website.

“I went over to America to meet her and through one thing and another, ended up selling my home and losing a lot of money through her scams.”

The experience must have been devastating for Terence, who after 11 months, returned to the UK and had to live with his daughter. He says, “Once bitten, twice shy – I didn’t go on the website again.”

Terence does use a lot of technology in his home though. Listing his gadgets, he says, “I have a vacuum cleaner robot, a laptop, mobile phone, iPad, Alexa, automatic doors, a Smart Speaker, a 4K TV, a sound bar and an electronic wheelchair.” Out of the extensive list of technology though, his favourite is his wheelchair. He says, “It gets me around and gives me a sense of freedom.”

As a person who has embraced technology, we asked Terence what he would say to someone who is afraid to use it.

He replied, “A lot of elderly people find it hard to use. The most they do is use a washing machine, so I’d say to start with the basics first.”

He adds, “There are probably people here who are far more qualified than me – engineers for instance – so they just need to learn how to use it.”

For Terence, the TAPPI project isn’t a huge priority and he doesn’t wish to attend the meetings held with other residents at the service. However, with Terence’s mobility issues in mind, our Assistive Technology and Inclusion Officer, Lynne, will be looking out for new gadgets and technologies which could help him to retain as much independence as possible. Although, she might be hard-pushed to find something that he hasn’t already got!