top of page

Digital Skills For Carers

Breaking down digital skills into a meaningful guide has been somewhat of a challenge. Where do we start when there are so many services and types of technology to keep up with? It’s no wonder that many of us struggle to keep up with the pace of change. 


Our experience at Mobilise is that everyone is capable of using technology to improve their lives. We’ve seen it break barriers to isolation, through online community and conversation, speed up access to support and make life easier. 


To provide a guide to cater to all, we’ve broken it down into three sections:

But first - a word on online security.

Illustration of a man on his phone

How to stay secure online

First, let’s quickly go over the basics. Generally, most security breaches occur because either: someone gets access to your email account, you disclose information by mistake to ill-meaning third party (also known as a ‘phishing scam’) or a combination of the two.

💡Our top tips for staying secure online: 


1. Check the links in an email to understand if they are legitimate

Watch this short video to help identify which links are likely to be from a scammer. This stops us from mistakenly giving information away.

2. Secure your email account/s with two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication is a two-step process a system takes to verify that it is us signing into our accounts. This can include sending a code to our phone or an alternative email address we chose to include, making it difficult for someone to access our accounts. 

3. Keep your devices and software up to date 

This stops hackers from accessing our devices with malicious programmes.


There are other ways we could be at risk and we can find out more about how to protect ourselves from the National Cyber Security Centre


Digital skills for beginners

Perhaps we have an email account, but don’t access the internet regularly. Or we have a smartphone but don’t use much more than the text and phone functions. If so, this is the section for us.

Creating passwords

Most online services will require us to have a password and each one may have different requirements. We might need to have numbers present and with others or special characters such as; !, &, %, £. 


We should always have a unique password to each new service you set up, so people can’t access all of our accounts with the same one. But this can be hard to remember - particularly if we also need to do this for the person we are caring for too! 


With that in mind a password manager is a great piece of kit. All our passwords are stored in one place and we  just have to remember one master password to access them. 


Here are some options:

1. 1Password - Best for Carers

1Password costs around £5 per month. For that money, we can access the service on nearly any device. Plus, there’s a family function which allows us to share some or all of our passwords. This is great for emergencies or if we need a hand and can’t get to a computer.


2. Best free option - Last pass

Last pass is a great option for those on a budget. Whilst it doesn’t have the family functions of the other two services, it’s still a really great option and it’s completely free!

3. Best for additional protection - Keeper

Keeper is around £44 a year, for that we get similar family functionality to 1Password. But also some neat other features such as help creating strong passwords and alerts if one of our passwords has somehow been breached so we can change it straight away.

Keeping in touch with family and friends

Staying in touch with family and friends is one of the biggest gains of modern technology. Video calls with a tap or a click are now everywhere, but working out the best option for us can be tricky. Take a look at the top seven apps for free video calling carers have been enjoying. 


Some messaging services we can dabble with: 

  • SMS/Text

  • Facebook and Facebook Messenger

  • WhatsApp 

  • Zoom


All of them have their benefits and drawbacks. So it’s helpful to think about how we prefer to communicate. Would we prefer text-based communications or video? One to one or in a group? 


We should also think about our devices. If we don’t have a smartphone, some of them won’t be available to us. 


Here’s a handy grid to work out which might work best:

Company or service
Group or individual communication?
Text, video or audio communication?
Do you need a smartphone?
Do you need to set up an account?
Carer's view
Other considerations
Generally individual
A great default option. A text can nearly always be relied upon.
Your mobile phone plan will need to included SMS or you will be charged per message.
Facebook/Facebook Messenger
No - you can use a tablet, laptop or desktop computer.
Yes - you will need a facebook account.
Great for staying in touch with other carers, or for finding groups like Mobilise!
An awesome resource. Perfect for creating a group to prepare for the unexpected.
You will need a smartphone with a data connection or a wifi connection
Mostly video
No - you can use it on most devices
No - not if someone invites you to join a video call
We use this for our Online Virtual Cuppas - it’s a great way of uniting people on whatever device they prepare.
You will need a good internet connection either using mobile data or wifi.

💡 Top tip - Always check that the internet speed is up to date! Sometimes, having a poor wifi connection can really bring down the quality we experience on video calls. Broadband Savvy has a simple guide on how we can improve our internet speed


Digital skills for intermediates

You've mastered how you communicate and have a variety of internet accounts that enable you to do what you want. Perhaps you regularly shop online. You feel comfortable with apps and own a smartphone. If that sounds familiar... onwards!  

Try voice-enabled devices

More and more people are turning to voice enabled devices which can be super helpful if the person we care for is in another room. These are simply ‘smart devices’ which we can speak to, either to ask for information or ask them to do something. 


Whilst these smart devices are great at playing music when asked, there are many other ways we can use them.


For example, we can ask them:

  • What the weather or time is (for any location around the world)

  • Set a reminder (to go on a walk, or take pills)

  • To set a timer

  • For information

  • Turn on the lights

  • Open the curtains

  • Read our children a book

  • To call someone (including emergency services)

  • Text someone that we’re on our way home

  • Find accessible places to go or eat

  • Do daily quiz type questions (a family treat!)

  • Make an announcement to someone else in a different room (i.e. if they’d like tea)


The low cost of these smart devices is also a real benefit and means we can have them in multiple rooms. The best devices are sold from Amazon and Google and depending on who we already have accounts with, is largely the biggest factor when choosing.

Best for shopping - Amazon’s Echo

Perhaps we’ve heard of Alexa. This is the voice of the virtual assistant to Amazon’s product Echo. There are a variety of different devices available starting from £39, and some include screens which can be very handy.


We’ll need an Amazon account but the benefits are significant. For example, quickly ordering of supplies e.g. “Alexa order more toilet roll” or “Alexa add aspirin to my medications list”. 

There are also a wide range of useful tools which could help carers. It’s become so popular that Amazon have started to work on a new version designed specifically for older people and carers in care homes.

How carers are using Alexa around the house to help them

"I really like Alexa; we have one in just about every room. I use it for routine reminders, day date prompts, lists, to operate my linked devices, to view my cameras, to display photographs, listen to the radio or music and to help with cooking."


In the kitchen, carers have shared that they use Alexa for all the "routine reminders" such as;

  • Phoning the doctor 

  • Getting the person they care us

  • Medication (four times a day)

  • Getting ready for bed, find pyjamas, tooth brush etc.

  • Closing the garden, (get in any washing, lock the side gate)

  • Check ingthe bins, then use my calendar to decide if it was recycling or rubbish bin.

  • Zoom call in 10 minutes.

  • Phoning the dentist

"I used the Kitchen Echo Show or my tablet to “drop in” on the bedroom Echo Show, this meant that I could see and hear her from the kitchen."

In the bedroom:

"In the bedroom and kitchen are Echo Shows these include a camera and a display. We use the bedroom Echo to set a wake-up reminder every day.  The reminder is repeated twice and stops while the alarm plays until you say “Alexa stop” if you prefer Alexa can play music or a radio station to wake you up."

"Using Alexa compatible smart plugs and bulbs allows me to turn some of my lights on or off just by talking to Alexa."

"We have Alexa compatible door bell, security cameras and thermostat. Alexa can show me the porch or garden, but only for a limited time. She can also turn the heating up or down."

Best for information - Google Nest

Google offers a similar range of devices starting from £49, all powered by Google’s search system which means we are never far from the right answer. To get the most from Google’s nest product we’ll need a Google account. It will help a lot if we use Google’s calendar and email as well. 

Similar useful tools for carers to Amazon Echo are also available on Google Nest.


One to watch - Apple Homepod

We can’t fully recommend this yet as Apple’s digital assistant Siri is still some way behind that of Google and Amazon. But, if we are tied up in the Apple ecosystem of devices, we might find it a useful addition to have. Commands like “Siri call Mum” will work really well, but it fails when asking for relatively straightforward information. If we think it’s for us take a look at their devices.

Give online learning for any task a go

As carers we often find ourselves needing to take on new skills and become good at them quickly.


For all your questions - Youtube

Youtube is the world’s second biggest search engine after Google. And we’ll find the answer to nearly anything. Need to know how to pop a door back on its hinges, clear a blocked drain or safely turn someone in bed - we’ll find lots of step-by-step answers here.


Learn something new - Skillshare

If we’d like to take up a new hobby or learn something new, the folks at Skillshare have us covered. They use video tutorials from experts all over the world to teach us new skills. We could relax and learn how to paint, learn how to start a new business, or even try our hand at interior design!


Learn from a celebrity expert - MasterClass 

Perhaps we’ve always wanted to learn from the very best, if so look no further. MasterClass brings us cooking lessons from Gordon Ramsay, photography with Annie Leibovitz, acting with Samuel L Jackson or learn how to write the next bestselling thriller with Dan Brown!


It’s an amazing lineup, and it comes at a price but for £14/month we’ll be spending our time learning in some very good company. Also, they also cover dog training, gardening, magic and much more!


Digital skills for experts

This section is for if we’ve grown up with the internet or use it all day every day. We may be looking for a few ways to start to challenge ourselves. Thankfully infinite customisation and automation are very real and not that difficult!

Smart Home 

Switching off lights with a switch is soooo 2019. The world of the smart-thing is here. From smart lights, to smart fridges and smart kettles, we can now get nearly anything as a connected device. 


When we start to combine smart tech with assistants like Google, Siri and Alexa, we really start to see the benefits. More companies like Ikea are bringing a range of options through at reasonable prices


There are even smart water bottles that connect to our Apple watch


With all this in play, we can start to get some basics in our life and incorporate these into our routines. For example, we could have a routine set up where at a particular time in the morning the blinds open, the weather is read to us, alongside any reminders or things we need to do that day.

If this then that - IFTTT

Time to connect our digital world together in a few clicks! And it’s not as complicated as it sounds. IFTTT is an amazing service which allows our different account ecosystems to talk to each other (sort of). For example once we create an account, we can create a IFTTT that says: if the time is 8:00pm, then send me a notification to read an article about X. 


We could also sync the reminders from our Alexa with those on our iPhone, get a notification when the international space station goes over our home, use it to log when medication is taken so we always know how much we have in our supplies. Or receive a notification when something essential at Tesco goes on offer. 


The number of connections is amazing. Signing up is free and well worth having a play with. 

A final word

Despite the great benefits technology can bring to us, research has also shown that some advanced digital designs may pose as barriers to some. 

No Isolation's Digital Exclusion report revealed how the touchscreen future may leave 5.6 million elderly behind in the UK. The accessibility to technology which we may think is working wonders, may not be as accessible as we think. 

So why not check out KOMP? It is a one button computer that makes the process of sharing photos and making video calls super easy. Easy enough for those inexperienced with technology.

Share your ideas with us

If you have a great tip for digital skills for carers, pop us an email here and we’ll update our guide to with even more ideas!

bottom of page