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Enhancing Digital Access for Singapore’s Elderly

 As part of the Digital for Life movement, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) supports Care Corner, a non-profit social service agency that assists Singapore’s senior citizens applying for internet connectivity through IMDA’s Home Access programme and provides guidance plus digital tools that can help the beneficiaries better utilise the digital options accessible to them.

Seniors in Singapore can benefit from a variety of digital tools available these days to stay socially active by communicating with their loved ones via video call; however, barriers such as the cost of internet connectivity and a lack of technical knowledge of devices may prevent them from fully utilising such tools.

Staff and volunteers at Care Corner work to improve the lives of underprivileged Singaporeans. Their senior services let older Singaporeans age in place by providing holistic engagement, wellness programmes, and specialised care plans.

The SeniorsConnect Digital Skills Initiative, started by Care Corner and backed by IMDA’s Home Access programme in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic limitations, aims to boost digital adoption and inclusion among the elderly. The joint partnerships created the campaign to keep elders engaged at home and make digital involvement a part of their everyday lives, knowing the dangers of social isolation.

The digital inclusion strategy for the initiative is two-fold: education and engagement, as well as access to digital solutions. The centre provides online programmes and workshops on a regular basis, largely through Zoom, to teach seniors how to use digital technologies and keep them involved. Morning exercises, birthday and holiday parties, creative sessions, and even eating together online are just a few of the programmes available.

The seniors were assisted by providing them with the necessary access to participate in these activities. They can have internet access in their homes thanks to the IMDA’s Home Access programme. Senior adults who used to enjoy in-person activities at the Care Corner Active Ageing Centre may now participate in the fun from the comfort of their own homes by using digital tools.

To date, the initiative has benefited 270 seniors from seven Active Ageing Centres, many of whom are low-income Singaporeans who live in rental apartments. These recipients are in their early sixties to late eighties and are looking for companionship or leisure activities to spend their time.

Eligible Singaporean families can get two years of subsidised fibre broadband connectivity under the Home Access Programme. Families that are eligible but do not have school-aged children can choose to combine their broadband with a tablet or smartphone. Eligible elderlies can apply for and benefit from the scheme through the SeniorsConnect Digital Skills Initiative. Care Corner’s digital project currently assists 70 elders through the programme.

The service allows seniors to engage in a variety of online programmes from the comfort of their own homes without having to worry about surpassing their mobile data limits or incurring exorbitant expenses. As a result, Home Access has played a critical role in the adoption of SeniorsConnect and other digital technologies.

The Home Access Programme, in conjunction with other digital inclusion initiatives such as IMDA’s Seniors, Go Digital, has helped to raise Singapore’s household internet penetration rate from 87 per cent in 2016 to 98 per cent in 2020.

As Singapore continues to develop into a digital society, it is critical that no one is left behind in the race for advancement. Care Corner’s and the Home Access programme’s community activities ensure that vulnerable people continue to have access to digital solutions.

Through an emphasis on talent, research, innovation, and enterprise, the IMDA promotes and governs the converging Infocomm and media industries in a holistic manner, producing a vibrant and exciting sector full of chances for growth.

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