Digital support to be rolled out in other areas after pilot success

Number 65 High Street, Nailsea. Nailsea School students volunteering to help the 'techno-timid'.

Number 65 High Street, Nailsea. Nailsea School students volunteering to help the 'techno-timid'. Picture: MARK ATHERTON - Credit: Archant

A digital health hub which was set up in Nailsea has been so successful it is being rolled out in five other regions.

Nailsea Town Council set up a techno-timid project at Number 65 High Street to help people learn more about using the internet and apps to access health support and keep in touch with friends and family.

The project aims to increase people’s digital skills, to reduce social isolation and prevent unnecessary use of the NHS.

More: New digital and health support service to open.

It was chosen as a flagship for NHS Digital’s Pathfinder project and due to its success, it is being rolled out in North West London, the Wirral, Blackburn, Middlesborough and Stafford.

Ian Morrell, development manager at Number 65, said: “The digital revolution has created disadvantages which did not previously exist, and many people feel excluded and left behind.

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“At Number 65, we have aimed to build trust with the local community, and provide one-to-one support, introducing people to technology in an accessible way so they can see the benefits digital can provide.

“When people come to us for help with technology, the first thing we do is find out what they need – so we are providing a service that is led by users, and which ensures they get what they want from the support we can offer.”

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The initiative has so far engaged 1,340 people including those with dementia, diabetes, autism and those acting as young carers.

More: Council’s digital project needs your votes.

Assistance offered ranges from contacting friends and family over Skype, to ordering a repeat prescription and choosing a preferred hospital provider for a surgery or appointment.

The project is a partnership between local NHS services, Nailsea Town Council and Healthwatch and is supported by volunteers, including students from Nailsea School who provide one-to-one support.

Organisations in five areas will now use their own digital health hubs to find out what works in their area.

Using the findings from existing Pathfinders, including Nailsea, they will be making sure the most excluded in their boroughs have the chance to benefit from digital.

This project is part of the NHS’ Widening Digital Participation Programme1, which aims to make digital health services and information accessible to everyone.

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