Accessing Vital Services Online

Woman and her tablet

Claire’s Story

Claire was referred into Digital Brighton & Hove by her GP practice so she could become confident to access essential services online. Claire has multiple complex health conditions and as her husband had died very recently, she was in need of some support at home to become more independent.

After meeting with Claire, we understood one of her main priorities was to be able to do online food shopping. Claire shared that she had depended on her husband for many things, especially food shopping, as she cannot get out independently. Claire told us that one week she hardly ate, because she had no food in the house as she was unable to get to the shops. She had also used a taxi to take her shopping, which ended up costing her £40 – more than the cost of the shopping itself.

Due to her health conditions, Claire needed home-visit appointments with a Digital Champion (DC). At the first appointment, a friend of Claire’s was there to support her as well. Her friend did not live locally and had taken two buses to get to Claire’s house. Claire was very emotional, and she spoke about how difficult it was for her not having the independence to access services easily, and to even get her own shopping. 

Claire was fearful to shop online but in conversation with the Digital Champion, and her friend, who was an advocate for online food shopping, some of Claire’s worries were alleviated. Sitting around the kitchen table, the Digital Champion helped Claire to set up an online supermarket account. Once this was set up, Claire gradually built-up confidence in navigating the website, searching for the products she wanted and putting them in her shopping basket.  

To give Claire time to write a full shopping list, a follow up appointment was scheduled. Claire has favourite brands and products she uses and several of these were not available from the supermarket she was ordering from, so Claire decided to try a different online supermarket. Claire became more confident in searching for her favourite products and adding them to her basket, noting “it was nearly the same as the other site I used”. Claire was delighted to tick things off her paper list as she put them in her online basket, ordering 2 of everything to stock up. “I’d never be able to carry all of this home myself!” Claire remarked. 

Claire had also shared that she was worried about security and the checkout process. To reassure her, the Digital Champion talked through the importance of security and explained ways she can check that the process is safe when buying online.  It was the first time Claire had used her card online and her bank needed some additional security processes which initially worried Claire. She said “If I was doing this on my own, this is the point I would give up and throw my tablet out the window!” With the Digital Champion’s support and reassurance however, Claire was able to successfully check out. “That’s a huge weight off my mind” stated Claire.  

The Digital Champion then phoned Claire a few days later, to check that everything had gone well after receiving her shopping delivery.

“I am so pleased. I can’t thank you enough. Just to be able to do this has made all the difference and I feel in control of this. To be able to have this independence, I can’t tell you how much of a difference it makes. I feel like I am now ticking things off the list of things I need to be able to do. I never knew this service was available. I don’t know what I would have done without. It seems easy with you here helping but if I had tried to do it on my own, I would have given up”. 

Claire’s Next Task: online health services

The next task was to help Claire access other vital services online, including her medical records. She has numerous medical appointments she needs to attend, and was worried she was missing them and had not received any letters. We supported Claire to log into her NHS account and set up the fingerprint ID to make it easier for her. Together we created a step-by-step guide so she could log in independently in the future. 

Being able to do her food shopping and access her medical appointments online has made a huge difference to Claire. Being online has helped her to feel more in control of her life and increased her independence.