Pilot project in Limerick to enhance web skills of ‘silver surfers’

Nick Rabbitts

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Nick Rabbitts

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nick@limerickleader.ie

Up to 40 elderly people in Limerick are to benefit from a pilot project which will see them given help to get online

Up to 40 elderly people in Limerick are to benefit from a pilot project which will see them given help to get online

UP to 40 elderly people in Limerick are to benefit from a pilot project which will see them given help to get online.

Early in 2019, a group of so-called ‘silver surfers’ are being selected to take part in the ‘Acorn’ project.

This will see them being given and instructed in a tablet computer device.

Codenamed ‘Acorn’, the product is a specially designed computer tailored to address the needs of seniors in a closed secure network.

It’s designed to encourage elderly people to engage and interact online at both a social and commercial level; the design has the aim of enhancing seniors’ independence, and helping them look after health, finance, communications and security concerns online.

Speaking at this week’s home and community strategic policy committee, Anne Rizzo of the community development department, revealed Limerick is only the second local authority to trial this project, as part of its local Age Friendly Initiative.

“This has huge potential, and I think it could be huge both across Ireland and across the world. I’m delighted to be on the ground floor with this. It could be a new buzz in 2019,” she told members.

The local authority is working with the older person’s council on the scheme, which will see technical support afforded over a six month period.

“There will be no out-of-pocket expenses,” she insisted.

Ten people on this committee have been given the tablet, and will be asked for feedback, while another 30 people are also in the process of being identified.

Asked by committee chairman Cllr Marian Hurley how this will be done, Ms Rizzo said there have already been 60 expressions of interest in taking a tablet.

After the six month period, those taking part will get to keep the tablet, and will only have to pay the cost of getting online – with the Age Friendly Network bidding to negotiate preferential rates for connecting to the internet, with either An Post, Vodafone, and Tesco Ireland.

“It’s a three horse race, with An Post in the lead,” Ms Rizzo disclosed.