Empowering Health Support at Home

Sophie’s story

After a recent stay in hospital, Sophie was referred into us at Digital Brighton & Hove by her local Hospital Discharge service. She has multiple disabilities that impact significantly on her life and needs to be able to access support groups, but these are held online.

Sophie explained to the referrer that she has a laptop but was not very sure how to use it, and that she would like to feel more confident with it. The referrer requested home visit support as she has restricted mobility, and it is not easy for her to be active in the community

A home visit

A Citizens Online Community Digital Champion (CDC) contacted Sophie and arranged to visit her at home. Sophie was initially nervous, but in the first appointment, the CDC chatted to her about what she would like to learn to do and helped Sophie to feel comfortable and recognise the skills she had already. We identified that we could change the computer settings so that these would to better suited to Sophie’s needs. To help further with this, the CDC decided to bring in a volunteer accessibility specialist to conduct future joint visits to support Sophie. Over several sessions we changed settings together on the computer including sleep mode duration, font size, mouse pointer size, Touch ID to minimise password entries, brightening the screen using keyboard, using shortcuts – all of which made Sophie’s online experience much easier.

Sophie’s needs means she requires ongoing medical care and support. The health support groups normally run their online sessions via Zoom, and Sophie had also expressed concerns about being able to connect to them.

Over several digital support appointments, we helped Sophie to practice finding emails for the Zoom link and connecting to meetings. The CDC reassured Sophie that each time she was able to connect independently without help, so Sophie tried to attend the next online support group on her own. Unfortunately, she found she wasn’t able to join when she tried for the first time. This affected her confidence as she thought she was doing something wrong.

When Sophie had her next home visit, we found the invitation emails were actually going into her email junk folder. We resolved this by adding the health teams contact details and adjusted her email filter settings so that the teams’ emails would be recognised in future.

Ongoing support

The following week, Sophie told us she had been trying to order a book online that someone had recommended to her, to help with her mental health. She ended up feeling quite frustrated because had tried to order it from a well-known online book shop but had been unable to complete the purchase. This affected her confidence again, and fed into the doubt she felt about her abilities on the computer.

We looked at this together and went through the process to try to identify the problem. After trying several different things, we concluded that it was the website itself that was the problem. Initially, Sophie assumed she was doing something wrong but in fact, it was the technology. Sophie was relieved and laughed with relief as she then successfully ordered the book from a different well known online book shop.

Sophie still gets nervous sometimes when using her computer but she is continuing to gain increased confidence and independence. She has managed to attend the support group on her own as well as attending other online health meetings. Access to technology is vital for Sophie and without the assistance of the CDC, she would not have been able to attend these essential health and support appointments.

Get Involved

If you are in the area and would like to become a Digital Champion and work with us, then please contact us on our freephone 0808 196 5833.

In short, a Digital Champion supports people to improve their digital skills and safely benefit from the online world. You can learn more about being a Digital Champion on our volunteer page.