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Gran and the Phone

Almost ten (ten!) years ago I wrote a blog post about Gran using the phone. Only it was never really about that. It was more about helping Gran to keep being Gran, and an example of that happened to include a phone. I share the reflection, unedited here:


Sometimes the greatest challenge of helping someone is doing so on their terms. This is Gran, with her tin of contacts on her lap, organised on alphabetised index cards. My mum is in charge of the iPhone (on the left), and Gran is chatting away to a friend, on the handset, the "technology" part taken care of.

Throughout her life Gran has been great at staying in touch with friends (the index cards are a clue), and although she has her own mobile phone she finds it difficult to use. She can't see the buttons well, and the thought of the logistical difficulties are enough to put her off phoning friends at all. The familiarity of the old school handset is a great example of how technology can be an enabler rather than an obstacle to communication.


Technology can help avoid social isolation, but the guiding principle must always be what an individual wants to achieve. If we're really committed to helping people achieving their goals, we have the strongest chance of getting it right.


(Original text written in 2011, when Gran had moved into residential care)