Digital literacy

NHS pilots address digital health inequalities in London

A study has shown an NHS-led charity helped tackle health inequalities by delivering digital inclusion services to more than 2,000 vulnerable people in London.

The north-west London digital inclusion programme had three pilots with the ultimate aim of improving digital access to health, care and community resources.

“…we are delighted to have made such a positive impact…”

The project was led by CW+, the charitable arm of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

The pilots included:

  • DigitALL – led by Open Age
  • Powering Recovery – led by West London NHS Trust
  • Hiyos Live Channel – Hiyos GP practice

DigitALL targeted elderly people and adults with learning disabilities, Powering Recovery aimed to provide greater choice between digital and face-to-face services, and Hiyos Live Channel delivered online content centred around addressing health inequalities.

Chris Chaney, chief executive at CW+, said: “During the Covid-19 pandemic many essential services moved online, which highlighted an already significant gap in digital literacy among some of the most vulnerable people in north-west London.

“This programme, supported by NHS Charities Together, sought to address that and we are delighted to have made such a positive impact on so many people.”

At the start of the DigitALL programme, only 20% of the participants used the internet on a daily or weekly basis; by the end, everyone did. The vast majority (85%) reported achieving their personal goals at the end of the programme as well.

Every participant in the Powering Recovery pilot was also confident enough to use the internet frequently by the end of their support – at the start it was just 65%. More than 90% of the people in the pilot rated it as ‘very good’.

Between DigitALL and Powering Recovery, 655 people had been supported by June 2023. Hiyos Live Channel, meanwhile, delivered workshops to more than 1,500 people.

At the start of the DigitALL and Powering Recovery initiatives, wellbeing was reported at 32% and 37% respectively, by the end this had jumped to 65% and 78%.

The evaluation was conducted by Imperial College Health Partners.

“The results of the evaluation show the important role…”

The DigitALL pilot has secured funding for another year. It was also one of the 10 finalists for the digital skills or talent initiative of the year category at the digital leaders 100 awards show.

Powering Recovery was also the runner-up at this year’s ISPA awards for the digital inclusion prize. It will be a poster presentation at the international integrated care conference.

“We are hugely grateful to our partners for their hard work in building participants’ digital skills and confidence over the past two years,” added Chris Chaney.

“The results of the evaluation show the important role digital literacy training plays in addressing health inequalities, and our hope is that the findings from this project will be picked up and adopted in other areas.”

Image credit: iStock

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