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Digital inclusion project to help residents access health services

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A specialist provider of IT, HR and finance solutions has joined up with a digital inclusion project to support families and older people.

Cantium will work with Kent County Council and Medway Council to provide residents with the digital tools they need to continue to access public health services.

They will work with local public health, children’s service, libraries and other agencies to ensure individuals get the support they need online.

Cantium will provide device configuration, distribution and support assistance for a number of pilots projects.

It means residents can access key services such as health visiting, maternity services, social prescribing and substance misuse.

The project aims to reduce digital exclusion and increase confidence among people who previously lacked digital skills using a combination of service user guides, a newly-formed Digital Champions Network and technical support from Cantium. Each device Cantium provides will also be preloaded with NHS approved apps, encouraging positive health and wellbeing behaviours in the local population.

The pilots will be evaluated to help inform a longer term strategy for the future, including the possibility of expanding it to include additional services. The local authorities say this is a priority going forward.

Mark Scott, chief executive officer at Cantium Business Solutions said: “The internet and digital technology have become integral to all aspects of public life. It is our mission to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to access these vital tools, so we are delighted to be working on this multi-agency project to promote digital inclusion.”

Clair Bell, cabinet member for Adult Social Care and Public Health at Kent County Council added: “At the current time it is more important than ever residents have access to critical public health services when they need them. This pilot will ensure that those who do not currently use digital devices will receive training and support, so they can share in the benefits of modern technology and experience new ways to communicate and keep in touch. I am delighted to be working with Cantium and Medway Council on this transformative project in support of our most vulnerable residents.”

According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2019 there were 4.8 million adults in the UK, who had either never used the internet or not used it in the last three months.

A Kent and Medway digital inclusion survey in 2020 found that 34 per cent of respondents had barriers to accessing digital services and 39 per cent felt they lacked digital skills. The evidence gathered during this pilot will inform a longer-term approach and a business case for the future.

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