Tung Wah College - NEWS & EVENTS - Tung Wah College receives about HK$2 million grant to launch the “Digital Buddy: Digital Inclusion for the Elderly” Project Skip to Content
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Tung Wah College receives about HK$2 million grant to launch the “Digital Buddy: Digital Inclusion for the Elderly” Project

Tung Wah College (TWC) has recently received a grant of about HK$2 million under Phase 1 of the Mental Health Initiatives Funding Scheme coordinated by the Advisory Committee on Mental Health to fund a two-year “Digital Buddy: Digital Inclusion for the Elderly” Project (“the Project”). Through the establishment of an e-learning platform, the Project provides older people with information on digital technology applications and mental health, as well as mental health self-assessment tools. In addition, the Project provides smart devices and data cards for those older people who have no access to smartphones, allowing them to obtain relevant information and training. Young volunteers (“Digital Buddies”) will be recruited to teach the older people to utilise digital technology to stay connected with the wider world, enhancing their mental well-being and the quality of life as well as promoting cross-generational inclusion.


One-stop e-learning platform to help the older people utilise technology to enhance mental well-being


Professor Sally Chan, President of Tung Wah College and principal investigator of the Project said, "Due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, our daily lives and social activities in recent years have gone digitalised. However, when it comes to the older people who are digitally illiterate, it is hard for them to stay connected with their relatives, friends and community amid the pandemic. They may feel isolated, helpless, and some are emotionally distressed. In the past, TWC implemented mental health projects and conducted research targeting at various population groups. We now would like to focus our attention to the mental well-being of the older people in the ‘new normal’. Through this project, we like to help the older people to be more connected and engaged with the society. This project will contribute to the community support and mental health of the older people.”


The Project kicked off in April 2022. It has three phases. In the first phase, a one-stop e-learning platform will be developed to provide the older people with knowledge on digital technology and mental health promotion, including e-learning materials to teach them how to make video calls, search for online resources, manage social media and health management apps. Videos on mental well-being, stress management, mindfulness, and breathing exercises will be incorporated into the e-learning platform to improve their capabilities to manage stress, anxiety, and depression. There are also self-assessment tools for their mental health status, self-efficacy, social support, and quality of life.


One-on-one teaching by young volunteers to help the older people integrate into the digital society


In the second phase, TWC will collaborate with post-secondary institutions, team members and project partners to recruit 100 young volunteers aged 18-29 and train them to become “Digital Buddies”. One thousand older people aged 60 or above will also be recruited to join the Project. Each Digital Buddy will pair up with 10 older people and coach them on the skills of digital technology progressively on a one-on-one basis for 6 months. Special arrangements can be made for those individuals who need to extend the training hours. Digital Buddies will also create chatrooms for the older people using communication software or social media apps, enabling them to acquire support at any time as well as increasing the opportunities for cross-generational communication.


Professor Chan continued, “Although there are many non-profit-making organisations offering courses or workshops to help older people mastering digital skills, most of them are only of short-term and experiential nature. This Project can provide relatively longer and one-on-one mentorship. Apart from promoting the importance of digital skills and mental well-being, the Project also has a focus on inter-generation integration. We hope that with the support of Digital Buddies, the older people who participate in the Project will acquire basic digital skills, reinstate their social life, and obtain knowledge about mental well-being to enhance their awareness of mental health needs. The beneficiaries of this project are not confined to older people, Digital Buddies will also learn to improve their communication skills and deepen their understanding of the mental health needs of the older people through the Project.”


Free platform open for the public - Nearly 900,000 local older people to benefit


In the third phase, the project team will evaluate the effectiveness of the Project by conducting a post-training evaluation on the areas of mental well-being, quality of life, self-efficacy, and social support for the older people, and to compare the differences in these areas before and after the training. Furthermore, the team will also conduct interviews with the participating older people and Digital Buddies to understand how they benefit from the Project. After the completion of the three phases, the team will disseminate the study results to the Advisory Committee on Mental Health, the industry, and the public understanding on the impact of technology toward older people’s mental well-being and quality of life.


Upon the completion of the Project, the e-learning platform will be open for public access which will benefit more older people in Hong Kong. According to a survey conducted in 2020[1], based on the population aged 65 or above who possess smartphones, the number of potential beneficiaries is projected to be 895,100, accounting for about 68% of the local older people population.





[1] Thematic Household Survey Report No. 73


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