Residents are learning to surf – so to speak – at Braemar Presbyterian Care’s aged care facilities, thanks to an Australian government initiative.

The broadband for seniors program – Be Connected – is being launched at the not-for-profit aged care provider this week, thanks to a government grant aimed at building seniors’ confidence with new technology and assisting them to keep up-to-date with online news.

Residents involved in the program will trial iPads to check weather updates, view online news, access video content from popular sites such as YouTube and even facetime family and friends. This adds a real benefit to the quality of life of aged care residents and forms part of Braemar’s commitment to relationship centred care; where resident requests are included in the services offered..

Braemar Presbyterian Care Chief Executive, Wayne Belcher (OAM), says residents are set to gain an enormous amount from the new technology, both in learning and social connectedness.

“We are in the age of the internet, and it can be dis-empowering for older people in the community when they don’t know how to use new technologies. My first witness of online banking was from visiting residents in a nursing home in the Netherlands in 2006.  Technology has come a long way since then, but we should never think that our elders are beyond grasping even the newest of technologies. We are pleased to be able to offer education sessions to our residents as both a learning tool and also a valuable social outlet,” Mr Belcher says.

“Social connectedness and maintaining relationships is an important part of the human experience. While nothing can fully replace face to face contact, digital tools such as these iPads allow our residents to connect to family and friends on the other side of the globe, something they were unable to easily do in the past.”

Since 1952, Braemar Presbyterian Care has been offering care and friendship to the elderly in Perth, Western Australia. Braemar currently operates three residential care facilities, providing care and support to over 200 people. Braemar’s care philosophy is one of Relationship Centred Care, which supports the relationships that exist and develop between staff, volunteers, residents and their families.