‘Digital Health Devon’ to launch across the County

An award-winning service is being rolled out across Devon designed to show people how to access local health, social care and wellbeing services using the internet.

Independent consumer champion Healthwatch Torbay has been successful in its recent bid from the European Regional Development Fund, supporting Innovation in Healthy Ageing from Devon County Council.

Following previous successful work in digital tutorials in Torbay funded by Ageing Well Torbay and the Big Lottery Fund, it will launch an E-Learning Tool across Torbay, Plymouth and the wider Devon to support people to access local health, social care and wellbeing services using the internet, whilst also helping them understand how to utilise the latest technologies available at GPs.

In October 2018 the pilot project in Torbay won a national ‘Highly Commended’ award in the ‘Giving people the advice and information they need’ category at the 2018 National Healthwatch Excellence Awards. This project is now expanding to incorporate the wider Devon area, hosting drop in sessions at GP Practices and select community venues.

GPs have been tasked with getting 20% of patients online, and following research Healthwatch Torbay identified that more could be done to help communities take advantage of the systems available to them to not be isolated, be better informed, reduce costs and help people manage their health and wellbeing. The majority of surgeries are now utilising online systems to support patients online.

Healthwatch Torbay will be supported in the project by multiple partners, including digital experts EKKO, The University of Plymouth, NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group and Colebrook. Local communities will have a choice to join online classrooms or even receive face-to-face training.

Pat Harris, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Torbay says: “Digital Health Devon will create the tools for people to become more empowered, more confident in using systems online and through a trusted local resource.

We are now aiming to support all 137 Devon GPs with training opportunities for their patients and families, to take advantage of the systems available through our training services and e learning tool and developing a network of trainers, student nurses and volunteers to extend our reach and supporting our experienced digital staff in place.

This digital inclusion project will create new job roles and support future sustainability for us and support our work to influence the design and delivery of Health and Care services in the South West and launch at the end of Feb”.

If you’re interested in getting involved or helping support the Digital Health Devon Project, please call free on 08000 520 029 or email info@digitalhealthdevon.co.uk.

About the Project

1. Digital Health Devon is a partnership of organisations offering free digital training in Devon to show people how to use the internet to access local health, social care and wellbeing services. One of the partners are local Healthwatch – the people’s champion of health and social care. Others include Colebrook Housing, Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, Ekko Media and Plymouth University.

2. The new Digital Health Devon partnership has grown from a ‘digital inclusion’ pilot project run in 2018 by Healthwatch Torbay and funded by Ageing Well Torbay and the Big Lottery Fund. It consisted of:

* Nearly 300 hundred people trained via public ‘digital drop in’ sessions held at various public venues, including GP Practices, libraries and community centres.

* 600+ training booklets distributed out into the community

* Over seven hundred unique visits to the online version of the training - which includes ‘how-to’ video guides - all available via https://healthwatchtorbay.org.uk/online-tutorials. 3. In response to the pilot project’s impact, it won a national ‘Highly Commended’ award in the ‘Giving people the advice and information they need’ category at the 2018 National Healthwatch Excellence Awards.

4. Following a successful bid for European Regional Development Funding, Digital Health Devon are expanding this pilot project to incorporate the wider Devon area, hosting drop in sessions at GP Practices and select community venues.

Ian Hughes