'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 application to the Innovation in Healthy Ageing Programme Challenge Fund. The Innovation in Healthy Ageing programme supports growth though innovation and uses the challenges of healthy ageing to stimulate growth. It supports growth by providing business support, student placements and grant funding to eligible organisations in Devon, Plymouth and Torbay.

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 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 beginning of March”.

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.

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Apart from five years studying in Oxford I’ve lived most of my life in London where for many years I was Head of English in a prestigious girls’ school, but since taking early retirement and heading West to be nearer to my two daughters - settling in Torbay with my wife, Anna, in 2011 - I’ve worked in the voluntary sector. I took on the role of Service Provider, for example, promoting the Red Cross Torbay Navigators Project, while now I’m a Trustee and part of the Media Team for our local Healthwatch. I’m a governor at Torquay Academy, too, giving me the chance to stay up to date with what’s happening in the world of education. Other interests, aside from friends and family, include art and art history, reading - from contemporary fiction and poetry to Elizabethan/Jacobean literature - history, politics, cooking, walking, and music, in particular Bob Dylan, the blues, and early Elvis. I love writing, too, with one novel published so far – Elvis in Wonderland – and another, Who’s There?, that still needs plenty of work!