Older People Losing Out In Information Stakes During Coronavirus Crisis

Many older people in London are missing out in keeping themselves informed about help and information in the coronavirus crisis because they don’t access online information. There’s a lot of information currently  on what’s happening and on initiatives but there’s a risk of there being information overload and it not catering for the needs of older people. And, for many older and poorer people without access to online information they will miss out on helpful information and support.

Positive Ageing in London representing  age organisations across London has canvassed its members on key issues facing them during the crisis and have written to Sadiq Khan the Mayor of London and London Council leaders with an urgent set of recommendations to ensure older people don’t get left behind, including:

• The Mayor of London and London Borough Council leaders  need to send a regular hard copy letter to London’s older people backing  up the online information being offered. These letters need to provide core information and updates, which can be distributed by the hundreds of thousands of volunteers and in partnership with local council / Age UK borough hubs,  and mutual aid groups to older people and those who are deemed vulnerable and at risk

• Providers of services need to recognise the information needs of older people and ensure information is easy to understand and accessible by phone and hard copy

• Websites for organisations need to be updated regularly and provide a telephone contact so people can ring and chat through issues. There should be easy to follow Qs and As on key sites.

• Age related voluntary organisations in London need to be funded and supported to network and communicate with each other to ensure their members are kept informed with coordinated information which can be cascaded to friends and contacts.

Chris Walsh, Chair of PAIL said, “Despite greater social media usage by older people there are still a very large number of vulnerable older Londoners who do not have access to the internet, email or have smart phones. In this situation many are getting left behind with key information and advice leading to confused information or being told what to do on news channels that do not allow them to follow up with specific questions”

The reality is that htere are millions of people who are poor and / or elderly who do not have access to the internet or smart phones.  According to the Ofcom’s 2019 Adults: Media use and attitudes report 2019  –  of 65-74s in UK:  33% do not use the internet and  34% have a social media profile  and for those aged 75 plus 48% do not use the internet and 20% have a social media profile. Nationally 13% of UK adults do not use the internet, unchanged since 2014; those aged 55 and over and in the DE socio-economic group remain less likely to be online.