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New British company uses TVs to help charities connect with older people

A British tech company endorsed by several Age UK organisations, is offering a new platform for age sector charities to connect with members, communicating with them directly to deliver interactive activity programmes and services through their home television set.

Sparko Virtual Retirement Community claims that its technology, which integrates with charities’ current services, “improves quality of life for older people, reaching across the digital divide and allowing them to remain independent and active within the local community”.

Charities and housing associations can use the service as a platform to interact with members and offer a range of services and activities, including live classes and groups, help at home, volunteer activity co-ordination and even medication reminders.

A box connected to the television allows users to make video and audio calls to loved ones and friends, share photos and access a video library chosen to suit their interests, along with a Happy News channel.

Orit Eyal-Fibeesh, chief executive officer of Sparko Virtual Retirement Community, said:

This is a simple yet innovative way for charities to improve the wellbeing of members in the comfort of their own living rooms. Instead of struggling with mobile devices and Skype, Zoom or FaceTime logins, we offer charities a tool to reach a wide base of members, delivering programmes at a time when day centres and other social or essential activities are restricted.

Jane Caldwell, chief executive officer of Age UK East London, said:

We love this service because it is a brilliant way to use the technology that all older people have in their own homes already, their television, to connect to activities, information and to each other. It opens the door to a range of tailored content with exercise and educational classes and great dramas including old movie classics.

If an older person can’t attend their usual class we can live stream the class into their home and if they are nervous to attend a new class they can connect to someone who also wants to attend. Older people have been enjoying speaking to their sons and daughters through the video call function and reporting that it’s so much more personal than a phone call

Along with the box connected to WiFi and the television set, Sparko provides a camera for video calls which can be covered for additional privacy. A broadband connection is required. It can be installed by a family member or, if required, by a member of the Sparko team wearing full personal protection equipment.

Image: Sparko

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