A 90 year old great grandmother is spearheading a group of silver surfers at a care home – and she even completed a virtual climb of Mount Everest.
Retired medical secretary Joy Storey is among the residents of Penpergwm House, in Abergavenny, who enjoy internet shopping, chatting on social media and cyber travelling to far flung destinations all at the touch of a button – thanks to exciting new iPad classes.
Activity coordinators at Penpergwm House, a member of Care Forum Wales, have launched the weekly iPad session to familiarise residents with touch-screen technology and social media communication.
The classes have been such a hit that some of the residents have even purchased their own iPads and are busy exploring the benefits of shopping and internet gaming all from the comfort of their own room.
Others have become roving reporters, contributing to a new monthly newsletter using their new-found IT skills and digital photography knowledge.
Joy Storey, who grew up in Ebbw Vale, South Wales, admits she couldn’t be without her iPad these days – particularly her treasured card game app ‘Patience’ which occupies most of her free time.
“It can keep me up at night sometimes,” the great grandmother admitted.
“I wouldn’t want to be without it now – it’s a way of getting outside. It is more difficult going out on my own now and it gives me freedom.
“I like searching for answers for the impossible clues in the newspaper crossword. I love Google Earth – do you know you can sit at the top of a mountain?
“Last week I was up Mount Everest and the week before that Mount Helena. I’ve found my way to my niece’s house in Massachusetts. I just love standing on that yellow line in the road, you can go anywhere.”
Joy, who has a daughter, two grandchildren, and one great grandchild, picked up her first iPad two years ago after finally getting to grips with her mobile phone.
She said: “Getting used to a mobile phone was really difficult so by the time I got to the iPad I sort of knew what I was doing and quickly realised it wouldn’t blow up if I pressed the wrong button.
“I use it for emails because I have a niece living in Massachusetts and another in Scotland. It’s for family mostly and obviously friends.
“My daughter thinks I’m wonderful and I suppose my friends think I’m a good egg. I think they’re very proud of me really.”
The iPad classes are held for an hour every Wednesday morning and attract up to 15 residents and day care visitors – some of whom select this day purely to take part in the session.
Participants are provided with an iPad but can bring their own along if they choose – and many have treated themselves since joining the class.
Among the many benefits the class offers is improved hand mobility and dexterity by using and manipulating the touch screen, enhanced social interaction between residents and their external family and friends, the ability to trace their family tree and genealogy, brain and memory stimulation through using mind teaser games and greater camaraderie with one another.
Registered owner and managing director Priscilla Llewelyn said: “Overall there is always a wonderful sense of achievement and elation at the end of each session as service users’ appreciate what they have accomplished. Celebrating each individual’s success, however small or personal to them, is a very important part of it.
“We find that weekly improvement has been very interesting too; even when a client doesn’t believe they have used the iPads before – they are evidently familiar with using the device.
“The classes provide the service users with a wonderful opportunity to not only continue to build on their lifelong learning opportunities that we care so much about at Penpergwm House, but there are also multiple additional benefits as well.”
A team of residents is now involved in the production of The Penpergwm Paper – a monthly newspaper for circulation between residents and their wider friends and family.
The editorial team, comprising mostly of residents, including an 82 year old editor, Joy Seaton, and two staff members, meets fortnightly to discuss and share new ideas for content as well as regular features such as ‘thought of the month’, ‘poetry corner’ and Care Home news.
The iPad classes have been instrumental to the residents’ confidence with new technology.
“I think the classes are wonderful. So many of the residents have never used the technology before, now they’re getting used to it,” said Joy, who has been a widow for 40 years.
“I’ve never actually shopped online and filled a basket before. This is one of the things the class is going to help me with. I’d like to get some new clothes at the beginning of spring without having to depend on other people.
“You can travel the world at the touch of a button and I love doing that. I was in Canada a long time ago and sometimes I take myself back to the same national park and think: ‘Wow, I’ve been there’.
“Life continues to get interesting. You meet so many different people in here. It’s a new part of my life.”
Mario Kreft MBE, the chair of Care Forum Wales, said: “Joy and her fellow residents at Penpergwm House are a real inspiration.
“They have embraced this new technology with huge enthusiasm and it’s making a huge difference to the quality of their lives.
“They have the world at their finger tips!”