MEDIA RELEASE | 24 April 2020
Digital divide aged care challenge for older people
Age more than any other factor defines digital inequality in Australia
The CEO of the Council on the Ageing (COTA) Victoria, Tina Hogarth-Clarke said many older victims of the COVID-19 pandemic have significant challenges in bridging the digital divide as they face the issue of dealing with isolation and illness.
“The impact of separation from a lifelong partner, especially where one partner is in an aged care facility in lock down, is naturally for everyone very distressing and can compound the sense of isolation and stress.
“This distress is heightened dramatically when one of the partners is unable to use or does not have access to an iPad or mobile phone to see or speak to a partner who has been placed in isolation.
“It is important for management in aged care facilities to recognise that partners may not have access to digital devices or the ability to operate them and assist with making the face to face connection.”
Ms Hogarth-Clarke said COTA Victoria supports the new guidelines, approved by the National Cabinet, and recently announced by the Prime Minister, as clear and sensible guidelines for care providers and families.
“We believe the guidelines ensures safety and is also a sensible approach to be compassionate, respectful and proportionate for each resident and family members, whilst also providing operators with the opportunity for flexibility in managing residents on a case by case basis.
“Older Victorians face the daily battle of bridging the digital divide in many aspects of daily life because of the rapid transfer of all essential services online including water, gas and power, pensions, unemployment benefits, medical information, banking, and transport concessions.
Where possible, they should be spared having to battle to see or have online contact with a loved one in an aged care facility,” Ms Hogarth-Clarke added.
Ron Smith, Media Communications, COTA Victoria, mobile: 0417 329 201