Care home bosses should do more to get residents online to ensure they feel “fully included” in society, a think-tank has said.
The International Longevity Centre-UK said that having access to the internet is important for the “intellectual and emotional” wellbeing of older people in homes.
The organisation made its comments after a poll by website carehome.co.uk found that only a fifth of care homes in the UK have internet access.
The website, which lists all care homes in the UK, found that only 2,720 of 16,000 care homes have set up the internet for their residents to use.
Last week figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that only a third of elderly people have ever been online.
Whether for shopping, banking or catching up with news, just 33% of over-75s have ever browsed the internet.
The figures show that 7.1 million adults in the UK have never been online - 45% of whom are over the age of 75.
Baroness Sally Greengross, chief executive of the International Longevity Centre-UK, said: “This is an area that really needs to be addressed to ensure that care home residents are fully included in today’s society.
“These findings that only a fifth of care homes have internet access are very disappointing.
“Technology can stimulate creativity and trigger reminiscence. It is so important for the intellectual and emotional wellbeing of older people, enabling them to connect through friends and family by email, Facebook and Skype.
“I would urge all care homes to have ICT as an integral part of their homes as it is a vital part of residential care.”
Davina Ludlow, director of carehome.co.uk, said: “We would like to see more care homes giving residents access to the internet. ICT should be an integral part of life in a care home.
“The internet can be crucial in giving older people and people living with disabilities back their independence and stop them feeling so isolated. They can shop online, order books and DVDs, chat to family and friends using Skype, and can look at photos on Facebook.
“ICT can also play a vital role in engaging people who are living with dementia.
“Gadgets such as iPads can be used as memory-reminiscence tools. Music and archive photos from different eras can unlock memories and can easily be accessed just by touching the screen.
“ICT is also great for helping grandparents and their grandchildren to interact as using tablets such as iPads can make communicating so much easier.”
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