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: http://devon.cc/sensory
- 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. Find a service near you at www.pinpointdevon.co.uk.
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. To find a group near you visit www.pinpointdevon.co.uk. You can then narrow the search to see the groups in your area. All groups offer different services so contact your nearest group to find out how they can help you.
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 www.pinpointdevon.co.uk. We recommend that you contact a couple of agencies to find one that suits your needs and budget.
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 devon.cc/memorycafes
or here Cafe Map | Helping each other… (dmcc.org.uk)
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 at devon.cc/memoryclinics
If you have lost touch with friends and family, there are lots of organisations which can help you to make new friends and find people to talk to and socialise with.
Contact the Elderly
A national charity which organises small, monthly, Sunday afternoon tea parties for people aged 75 and over. The party includes being collected and taken home by a driver. There are currently tea parties in Exeter, Exmouth, Tiverton and Torquay. Phone 0800 716 543 to find out about joining or visit www.contact-the-elderly.org.uk
The Silver Line
A free confidential helpline which offers friendship and advice. You can phone at any time to speak to someone, have a regular weekly catch-up call or take part in regular group calls. Phone 0800 4 70 80 90 at any time to find out more or visit www.thesilverline.org.uk
Other Devon services
There are many benefits for people with disabilities joining local community clubs and groups. From a social point of view, clubs are great way to meet people and make new friends. Groups organised around specific activities are a good way to start a new hobby or spend time with people with similar interests.
The following websites can help you search for community clubs and groups in Devon:
Independent Devon charity CEDA (Community, Equality, Disability Action) runs an Activity Hub programme of events, offering learning and social opportunities for disabled adults. Activities from IT skills to Tai Chi take place in CEDA’s fully accessible building or in the community. For more information contact CEDA on 01392 360645 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mencap has specific information about the importance of friendships and a social life for people with learning disabilities.
National charity Hft also has some excellent information and advice about friendships and dating for people with learning disabilities.
The Filo Project
Filo gives older people the chance to get out and spend a day socialising and having lunch with a small group of others. You’re collected in the morning and taken to a host’s home with up to three other people, where you can talk, listen to music and chat, and you’re driven home again at the end of the day. The Filo Project is currently in and around Exeter, Exmouth, Honiton, Tiverton, Cullompton, Okehampton, Crediton, South Molton and Bideford, and is growing across Devon. To find out more phone 0333 335 3434 or visit www.thefiloproject.co.uk
Age UK social activities
Age UK run a range of activities and groups across Devon giving you the chance to do things you enjoy, take up new interests and meet new people. The groups include walking football and basketball, computer sessions and gentle exercise groups. To find out what is available in your area phone 0845 296 7810 or email email@example.com
Royal Voluntary Service
Matches you with a volunteer who can help you to stay happy and independent by providing friendship, support to go out or attend appointments and help with small jobs like changing lightbulbs or doing some gardening. The service is flexible and aims to meet your individual needs. They also run social clubs and provide community transport. Phone 01209 705159 or visit www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk/service/1273-cornwall-and-devon.