On Tuesday, September 14, 2021, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved over $2.4 million to provide iPads and help bridge the digital divide for older adults residents. Data plans, training, technology support, and a subscription to GetSetUp’s interactive platform of virtual classes will also be included.
GetSetUp offers real-time, engaging learning experiences that range from teaching everyday technical skills to enrichment-focused courses taught by expert instructors who are older adults themselves. A catalog of 1,800 classes are accessible around the clock for Orange County residents to attend anytime they desire, from the comfort and safety of their homes for free for the next year.
“When the pandemic hit and in-person activities were limited, technology and the Internet proved to be critical tools for students, employees, and anyone wanting to access health care or even ordering essential items,” said Chairman Andrew Do, First District Supervisor. “COVID-19 exacerbated social isolation, especially among our seniors. To help bridge the digital divide, we are providing our community with the resources necessary to safely stay connected.”
GetSetUp makes digital literacy and social interaction possible within its customized safe space for older adults to learn, create, and share their wisdom. The platform helps older adults learn how to use their digital devices to stay connected, stay mentally and physically fit, and meet others with shared interests. By creating a safe space for older adults to learn from other older adults at their own pace, GetSetUp is addressing the social determinants of health that will help aging adults to live happier and healthier.
“Loneliness impacts the physical and mental health of our senior citizens,” said Vice Chairman Doug Chaffee, Fourth District Supervisor. “These iPads can help alleviate these effects and be part of the solution toward a better wellbeing.”
The iPads and GetSetUp classes are part of Orange County’s response to the State of California’s Master Plan goals to help older adults stay connected through technology and reduce social isolation. Older adults 60+ who reside in Orange County and are at risk for isolation may apply to receive an iPad which comes with training and access to GetSetUp classes.
“These iPads are a great tool and open doors to a variety of ways older adults can engage with others in their community,” said Supervisor Katrina Foley, Second District. “Orange County has more than 600,000 seniors and providing the technology for our most vulnerable to stay connected while staying safe is a way to improve their quality of life.”
Since each person starts at different levels of comfort with technology, a wide range of tech classes are available to ensure online literacy and avoid digital exclusion.
“Providing the iPad alone was not enough so we sought support around it,” said Supervisor Don Wagner, Third District. “Tools such as training and tech support will maximize the iPad’s resourcefulness and better serve those using it.”
“We hear learner feedback daily about how we are changing the world by helping reduce social isolation, which is one of the leading causes of illness and death among older adults. Older adults on our platform are able to be a part of a global community with peers that are passionate about similar topics. For many learners with mobility issues or who are alone, this has made a world of difference. While they may be alone physically at times they don’t have to be lonely thanks to all the friendships and connection opportunities we are creating. Fellow peers in positive learning environments are just a click away.” said Lawrence Kosick, Co-Founder of GetSetUp.
“Many older adults on fixed incomes simply can’t afford a mobile device and lack internet access,” said Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, Fifth District. “This program not only provides them with a device, but the essential training and tech support necessary for them to participate in telehealth appointments, connect with family and friends, and access online programs and services,” she said. “I am hopeful this program will result in a more tech-savvy, less lonely and more engaged older adult population.”
To apply for an iPad and training, contact the Orange County Office on Aging Call Center at (800) 510-2020 or (714) 480-6450. Devices are limited and will be distributed based on eligibility criteria including age and income, and having one of the risk factors for isolation, such as mobility issues; limited English skills; functional impairment; living alone; or living in a care facility.
All Orange County residents can now access free virtual classes by visiting: https://www.getsetup.io/partner/oc and entering coupon code: OC
If you are interested in bridging the digital divide and decreasing social isolation in your community, contact GetSetUp to learn more about our customized programs by emailing Paul Morillo.
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