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Need for Urgent Technology Education Amid Covid-19

Amid the response to Covid-19, hundreds of thousands of Kiwis aged over 65 are at risk of being isolated and excluded if more is not done to ensure they have access to online services, according to a leading charity.

 

Age Concern New Zealand estimates 30 percent of seniors, over 200,000 people, do not use the internet (compared to just 3 percent of those aged under 65) and many of these people are being left out as a result.

 

“Especially during a global pandemic, we need everyone in New Zealand to have equal access to government updates, online shopping, banking and entertainment,” says Stephanie Clare, Age Concern New Zealand CEO.

 

“For some older people who did not grow up with ever-evolving online applications ‘going online’ can feel like learning a foreign language.”

 

Since the start of the pandemic Age Concern has seen a large increase in demand for its services, with over 23,000 new visitors to its website and a jump in engagement on social media.

 

But there’s also been a huge increase in demand for non-digital services. In April - during the first lockdown - Age Concern set up a new free helpline (0800 652105) for those older people unable to afford an Internet connection or struggling to use devices. From April to May the incoming calls increased by over 450%.

 

“It’s fantastic that older kiwis know they can rely on us as a trusted source of information about Covid-19, but it also highlights an accessibility problem,” says Clare.

 

To address this, using a $500,000 donation from ANZ (NZ), Age Concern is working on a digital literacy plan that will help older kiwis to get online.

 

“We’re so grateful for ANZ’s generous donation because we know that there is a huge need for education and support to help people to use online services. The first lockdown exposed a gap where older people needed to get groceries, medication and information online but had no access to that channel. We can help rectify that!”

 

The initiative is part of the charity’s strategy to ensure seniors are not excluded from technology opportunities that can improve our lives as we age, a key part of the Ministry of Social Development’s ‘Better Later Life’ strategy.

 

Age Concern New Zealand expects the need for technology education will increase over the next 15 years as New Zealand’s population ages.

Tea and Tech session, Age Concern Nelson

 

Currently New Zealand has 750,000 people aged over 65. By 2034 its estimated this will increase to over 1.2 million.

 

ANZ’s donation of $500,000 to Age Concern earlier this year is part of an on-going commitment the bank has to our aging population and to older customers.

 

Many branch managers have strong relationships with regional Age Concern teams and work with them to help with digital banking needs.

 

“Earlier this year I asked local branch managers to reach out to their local Age Concern manager and understand how the branch can best help seniors in their community,” says Fiona Terry, ANZ’s Senior Manager for Vulnerable Customers.

 

“It was awesome to hear the positive feedback.”

 

Matt Davies, a Branch Manager in Nelson, is one of the many already working with Age Concern Nelson-Tasman, organising weekly visits to rest homes in the region.

 

“Together we run a programme called “Tea and Tech”. We visit local rest homes with some local college students and educate the residents on using technology in general and our banking channels if they’re with ANZ,” says Matt.

Tea and Tech session, Age Concern Nelson

 

“It’s a great opportunity for both the students and residents to learn from each other in different ways, and creates a neat bond between the generations.”

 

“While educating seniors about digital literacy, we found that if a friend or family member is there, then both end up learning from each other. Another benefits is that they can check in and help them later if they forget anything” says Stephanie Clare, Age Concern New Zealand Chief Executive.

 

“This is why we encourage people of all ages to support their friend’s and whanau.

 

About Age Concern

 

Age Concern New Zealand is a charity dedicated to people over 65, their friends and whanau. You can visit them at 40 locations across New Zealand. Find your nearest Age Concern on it's website to see what they are offering in local communities.

 

Age Concern promote dignity, wellbeing, equity and respect and provide expert information and support services in response to older people's needs.

Age Concern are active and vocal on relevant issues and work to ensure older people stay connected with their family, friends and community.

 

Visit Age Concern's website

 

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