Introduction

Mobile telephones, digital television and the Internet are modern forms of information and communication technology, or ICT. Many people in Britain are familiar with ICT as it has become part of everyday life. However, there are many older people who do not – and cannot – use ICT. These people are at risk of being unable to participate in some important aspects of modern-day society, which could lead to poorer quality of life.

There are several ways in which ICT can help older people achieve a good quality of life, despite the physical, emotional and cognitive challenges that many of them face.

First, ICT can help many older people cope with the loneliness and isolation often linked with ageing by using services such as email and Skype.

Second, many new ICTs are available nowadays which allow the social care sector to deliver services such as telecare quickly and (some say) more efficiently than regular services. Also, social care policy emphasises the benefits of taking personal control over care needs and the personalisation of services. This means many older people will need to acquire information about the availability, quality and price of different services, most of which is available most readily using ICT.

Third, ICT gives people instant access to general information and local services which are essential for daily living. More and more government services are available using ICT, for example, and when older people struggle to use and access ICT, they may not receive the help they need or want.

This scoping project aimed to gather the relevant research around older people’s understanding of – and access to – ICT to see how this impacts their quality of life, and to see how older people’s relationships with ICT affect the social care system, particularly in relation to the delivery of – and access to – care services.