You may be struggling to stay in touch with people because they live too far away, because it’s getting harder to visit them or because of sight or hearing problems. There are a range of solutions that can help including:
- easy-to-use phones and computers – and support to learn how to use them
- accessible transport
- people who can accompany you so you feel confident going out.
There is lots of equipment which can help you stay in touch. Everyday new technology is being developed, and things like smart phones and tablet computers are becoming cheaper and easier to use. The choice can be daunting so it’s a good idea to get some independent advice about what is available and where you can buy it from.
Phone the Independent Living Centre on 01392 380181 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss the options and find local suppliers.
An Independent Living Centre occupational therapist can talk to you about phones with large buttons or picture buttons, smart phones and tablets with big screen displays and louder sound, and magnifiers for computer screens.
Sight and hearing loss
If you are struggling to stay in touch because of vision or hearing problems there is specific equipment available, like amplified phones, and professionals who can help you to find the right solution.
Contact your nearest sensory resource centre.
- Devon In Sight, Exeter www.devoninsight.org.uk
- Optima Low Vision Clinic, Totnes www.optimalowvision.co.uk
- Sound Base Centre, Exeter Phone 01392 424018 (voice/textphone)
Hearing and visual impairment
- Westcountry Hearing Care www.plymouthguild.org.uk/our-services/the-hearing-and-sight-centre-has
- See Hear Centre, Barnstaple www.livingoptions.org/support-help/see-hear-centre
- Sensory Outreach Clinics in West Devon
- Sensory Outreach Service – Great Torrington and Holsworthy
- Living Options, specialist sight and hearing team offers free support, impartial advice, and equipment information about living with sight loss, hearing loss, and tinnitus. Your Sight and Hearing – Living Options Devon
If you live in an isolated area, or struggle to use public transport, there are transport services which can take you out to visit friends and family and take you home afterwards. This could be a local community support group or a community transport service.
Community transport includes things like community buses which provide regular timetabled transport, ring and ride minibuses which provide door-to-door transport and community cars where a volunteer can take you where you want to go. Visit www.traveldevon.info/accessibility/community-transport to find a community transport scheme near you.
Once you reach state pension age you can have a bus pass which gives you free off-peak travel on local buses. Adults with disabilities may also be able to apply. Find out how to apply for your bus pass at devon.cc/buspass
Your pass is valid for free travel from 9:30am to the end of service on weekdays, and all day at weekends and on public holidays.
Fare Car operates like a shared taxi service. Passengers can book and pay separately, but share a timetabled journey. There are ten Fare Car schemes operating in Devon and anyone can book them with 24 hours’ notice. For more information about the scheme and a timetable call 01392 382800 or email email@example.com
The Blue Badge scheme allows severely disabled people to park nearer their destination – the Badge holder can be the driver or the passenger. Find out more about Blue Badges and how you can apply at devon.cc/bluebadge.
If you have a Blue Badge and there is no off-street parking you may also be able to apply for a disabled parking bay near your home.
Learning computer skills
Computer skills courses
If you’ve never really used a computer before but want to learn, there are basic computer skills courses running all over Devon. You can attend a course to learn about using computers to communicate with friends and to search for information online. Visit www.learndevon.co.uk and search for computing or phone 0345 155 1014.
E-Wednesdays at Exeter Library
Exeter Library has two sessions every Wednesday for anyone who wants to learn how to use computers and the internet.
The Beginner Computer Course is every Wednesday at 10am-12 noon for one-to-one help learning how to use a computer. It’s free to attend but you must book your place. Phone 0345 155 1001 to book.
The IT drop-in sessions are every Wednesday 2pm-4pm. They’re free to attend and no booking is needed. Simply come along to get help with using the internet for shopping, paying bills and keeping in touch safely and securely.
Barclays Digital Eagles
Barclays Digital Eagles service aims to help people get online and get the benefits of being able to stay in touch, learn, pay bills and shop using a computer. They can talk to you about using free websites like Facebook and Skype to share photos and messages or have video conversations with friends and family around the world. Ask in your local Barclays branch about booking a session to talk to a Digital Eagle.
Help to go out
If you want to go out but are not confident about going by yourself, a volunteer from a local friends group may be able to help you get out to meet friends and family.
If you need help with a range of things, like getting dressed and washing, as well as going out you may want to think about employing a personal assistant or using an agency to provide all the support you need. You can search online for local care agencies at the Care Quality Commission. We recommend that you contact a couple of agencies to find one that suits your needs and budget. An alternative to a care agency is a Personal Assistant where you can find one or advertise for one.
You may also want to read some information from Age UK about organising and paying for personal care at home www.ageuk.org.uk/home-and-care/help-at-home
If you’re struggling to maintain relationships because you are having trouble with your memory, a memory café can be a good way to help you connect with family and friends, meet people who have memory problems and get practical help. There are memory cafes all across Devon; you can view a list of them at Memory Cafes.
If you’re worried about your memory visit your GP. They will talk to you about the problems you’re having and may refer you to a Memory Clinic for an assessment. The clinic will be able to give you information, support and treatment and introduce you to your local memory café if needed. Find out more about Memory Clinics.