Sheltered housing gets connected

Jean Button from Oak Tree House (Reading)A programme to roll out Wi-Fi across our sheltered housing schemes is paying dividends for residents.

With her daughter living in South Africa, her nephew in New Zealand, a niece in Italy and friends in Canada, Betty Galvin, from O’Grady Court in Ealing was finding it difficult to stay in touch with the people she cared about.

But that changed after she took part in Computer Club lessons at the court and learned how to use free internet sites including Facebook and Skype – a service that allows you to make telephone calls to anywhere in the world, and see a video of the person you are talking to.

Betty said: “We were shown how to use these sites as well as how to take a digital photograph, edit it and send it to someone.”

Learning those skills changed Betty’s life. But more recently her life has got even easier after Catalyst installed Wi-Fi at O’Grady Court.

No longer reliant on using the computers in the scheme’s computer room, Betty can now connect with her friends and family, whenever she wants, through her tablet computer…without leaving her flat. And that’s thanks to the Wi-Fi.

Jane Endersby, Head of Specialist and Sheltered Housing, played a leading role in the programme to install Wi-Fi across our sheltered housing sites.

“We worked with a company called Social Telecoms, which has a lot of experience in putting Wi-Fi into sheltered housing schemes. We’ve funded the installation ourselves, and offer the service to residents at a very a minimal cost,” she said.

Accessing the internet is increasingly important.

Not only because, as Betty has already explained, it means you can keep in touch with loved ones across the globe, but because of the range of services and deals you can get online.

Jane said: “There are many deals, and areas of social support, such as access to Housing Benefit, that can be accessed online in a way that’s easier for our residents once they know how to use the technology.”

So far Oak Tree House (Reading), O’Grady Court (Ealing) and Evelyn Fox Court (Kensington) have all had Wi-Fi installed.

Jane said: “We have a continuous programme to install W-Fi at all our sheltered housing sites and when we build new sites it will be included from the start rather than retro-fitted later.”

Rattan Pahra, also from O’Grady Court, said he had used the internet to research family history and used Facebook via Wi-Fi to keep in touch with family members.

“We’ve had students from local colleges come in to show us how to do things such as use Facebook – it’s been a great way of bringing different people together and create a sense of community.”

Another resident who’s pleased as punch about the launch of Wi-Fi is Jean Button from Oak Tree House. She’s a member of Oak Tree House’s Digital Club, which gives technology lessons to residents.

So far sessions have covered tablet technology, creating an email address and Skype. Future sessions will cover social media, using search engines, shopping online safely, taking pictures and downloading apps.

Jean, whose daughter lives in America, was able to use Skype to speak her.

She said: “I haven’t seen my daughter for three years and joined Skype. I like the fact that it’s free and I can use it now to see my daughter instead of just calling her.

“I have a long way to go to improve my skills. Hopefully I’ll be able to use the technology to inform my daughter of my hospital appointments. She likes to know how I’m getting on.

“But I’m thinking of getting a tablet now!”

For details visit the  sheltered housing section of our website.