The report was produced in collaboration with the University of Sheffield Information School and Sheffield Carers Centre and funded by Crook Public Service Fellowships and the ESRC.
Based on discussions with unpaid carers living in the South Yorkshire region, the report provides a first hand account of how unpaid carers are interacting with different types of digital technologies and online services, and what barriers exist which stop them from feeling digitally included.
The report makes 5 key recommendations for policy, practice and service provision:
- Information and advice: A single source of regularly updated, unbiased and easy to understand information and advice was felt to be needed.
- Collaboration between different services: Services, such as the Job Centre and Health services need to work together to support and signpost carers for example sharing information about local support and social tariffs.
- Digital by choice: The ability to choose was felt to be important, but also support to enable people to choose.
- Device loans and repair schemes: The provision of loan and repair services (and publicity about these services) could support more carers to engage with digital and online services.
- Practical support for skills and confidence: Carers welcomed opportunities to develop practical skills and confidence, recognising that all those who had taken part in the sessions had some familiarity with digital devices. Support for those they cared for to develop their own digital capabilities was also felt to be important.