Junior high tech

13 February 2019 | Wales

Tomos Provis and Fred Dowell

Kids are trained to teach older generations how to use iPads and Skype.

Children from Wales have been trained to help teach older folk in the community how to use technology likes iPads and Skype.

Tomos Provis, 11, is one of a dozen children who have undergone sessions to become a ‘Digital Hero’ and change the lives of older patients for the better at the South Wales hospital by introducing them to technology. He visits a hospital ward in the seaside town of Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan and has become close to 82-year-old Fred Dowell, a patient on the ward. 

The project is delivered by the Wales Co-operative Centre, a not-for-profit co-operative organisation that supports people in Wales to improve their lives and livelihoods. It is a shining example of people helping people.

Tomos, of Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg Primary, has been visiting the hospital once a week since last November and working with the mostly long-term patients of the Sam Davies rehabilitation ward. Many of the patients have dementia or Alzheimer's and are waiting to be transferred to care homes. One patient, a 97-year-old loves playing bingo online with the youngsters.

But Tomos’s favourite patient is Fred, and for both, the visit is the highlight of the week.

“It makes me feel joyful being there to help Fred. Apparently, he doesn’t have anyone visit him which makes me sad. But I can show him things online and then he will tell me a bit about history and the war. Before I came Fred had never seen an iPad and he really did not know how to use it. Now I show him how to download funny videos on Youtube or watch football clips. Sometimes Fred wants to look at dancing videos from the 1940s. When I leave, he gives me a hug. It is always sad when it’s time to go back to school.”

The school’s Assistant Head of Primary, Becca Pugh, is delighted with the results of the partnership. “Tomos can see what a difference he is making to the life of these patients. But now we walk the five minutes it takes to get there. It is absolutely brilliant for everyone involved.

“As a school we were already looking at delivering a wellbeing programme so this project fits in nicely with that. All the children were chosen specifically for this role and each given two and a half hours training and awarded a certificate. That makes them all feel so proud. 

“I just think it is such a tremendous example of intergenerational work with so many positive outcomes for all involved. It also builds confidence and communication skills for the children and shows the older folk that there are people out there who care.

“We all want our children to grow up and become model citizens and community-minded and this kind of project helps make that happen.”
She added: “Last week I had tears in my eyes when we left, after a patient put his hand on one of the youngsters and implored them not to go.”

Ward Manager Sister Linda Edwards added: “The patients just light up when the children come. And it’s so much better than staring at four walls like they usually have to. Bringing the young and older generations together is so amazing to see and I can’t praise the initiative enough. One gentleman can now Skype his wife when he wants to thanks to the children showing him how.

“It highlights the need for social interaction for patients in hospital and shows the joy that young people can bring using technology as aid for enjoyment.”

She added: “I feel very privileged to be a part of this community hospital and the goodwill from all the groups we have meet so far."

For further information, including volunteer testimonials and case studies, please visit their website.

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