Like many seniors, Sheena had no family living nearby to show her how to use her new iPad. So she asked a friend to help her start a group for older people to learn to use this new technology. The Rockingham iPad Group, now known as Switched on Seniors, was formed. Sheena hoped someone would come who would show her how to use her iPad. Vain hope! They advertised the start of the group by distributing a flyer among friends which said “BYO iPad”. Twelve people came to the first meeting and 18 to the second! Only half on each occasion actually brought an iPad because they were keen to find out about it before they considered buying. Clearly, then, their first task was to apply for some funding to buy iPads for the group.
Sheena and her friend Irene led the group on a journey of discovery. Numbers grew when attendees brought their friends and neighbours. Rather than have a waiting list, many of those who had learned how to use their iPads through the group became the Switched on Senior teachers of the next lot of beginners. In this way the model of a group based on Seniors teaching seniors through mutual help and sharing was born. Now over six years later about 40 people attend the original group each week and the teaching team has helped two other groups get established and become independent. The team also provides tech help in the home for clients of an Aged Care provider.
Switched on Seniors has begun delivering the Digital Mentoring training “Helping your community Be Connected”. This interactive free training and support program is available to organisations or individuals who would like to start a group in their own locality. Digital mentors participating in this program will receive one full day of training plus follow-up support, building confidence for delivering digital skills help to people aged over 50 in their community.