Older people

Digital inclusion remains a significant issue amongst older people. Although the generation gap in internet use is narrowing, with many older people going online to get more out of later life, there is still a huge digital divide. 55% of over 65s lacking at least one essential digital skill, and 53% of over 65s having none of the foundational digital skills they need. 

For older people experiencing life transitions, and with care and support needs, being able to go online can be especially valuable - and managing their health can be one of the most significant benefits people can realise. People who are managing changing mobility or long term conditions have more to gain from actively using the internet for their health and wellbeing.

Improving digital skills and confidence among older people remains important - particularly for groups who are most likely to be socially excluded too - those with a low household income, those living in social housing, and those with lower educational attainment. 

While the internet and digital technologies can play a valuable role in enabling older people with care and support needs to get more out of life, there is currently no national provision in England specifically to support older people’s digital inclusion and ensure equal access to online health services.

Through our Pathfinder projects, we have been exploring how we can support older people to engage with digital - here we’ll explore what we’ve done, what we’ve learnt and the impact we’ve had. 

Read our report into how to support older people to improve their digital skills in Health


People engaged and supported (inc 155 in-depth journeys)


Feel more informed about their health (from evaluation of people who completed Learn My Way modules)


Of people attended session from structured referrals

The model

Step 1: Engage people where they are

Use formal appointments with local services (health, council etc) to highlight digital support and refer to local provision.


Use informal settings to understand what interests people (a hook).

Step 2: Needs-led learning

Use formal sessions to work through Learn My Way. Starting with the most important modules for that person (basics, financial, health etc)


Use free apps and websites to show the things that people are most interested in (including hobbies etc)

Step 3: Empowerment and Ongoing

Discuss their health (if they are ready) and show right tools for them. e.g. NHS.UK, Repeat prescriptions on Learn My Way, NHS apps library


Show how to search local activities that might be interesting to them

These findings are based on the Pathfinders in Sunderland: Elderly Isolated People and Thanet: Assisted Living Schemes



How to Guide for Elderly Isolated People

How to Guide for People in Assisted Living Schemes


Combined Report for Digital Health Inclusion for Elderly Isolated People

Design of Sunderland Pathfinder

Design of Thanet Pathfinder

Case Studies

Case studies from Sunderland: Elderly Isolated People

Case studies from Thanet: Assisted Living Schemes

Further reading