Focusing on digital

The Charity Digital Skills Report 2019 shows that ‘charities are thinking big about what digital skills could help them do’, from developing better services, saving money and time, or getting more from their data to developing staff and engaging volunteers.

A small number of grants awarded by the Bupa UK Foundation have enabled charities to harness technology to test and develop new digital services to support and improve people’s health and wellbeing. These projects often use simple platforms to great effect, whether by building capacity, improving service delivery or providing highly personalised support for people with specific needs. Here are three great examples: 

Helping young adults manage their asthma effectively

Asthma UK has developed a non-emergency WhatsApp service that is proving to be hugely successful in helping young adults to manage their asthma.

In 2017, a grant from the Bupa UK Foundation enabled Asthma UK to pilot the new service, testing how to go about delivering health information and advice through WhatsApp and how best to engage and support young adults through the platform. The pilot significantly exceeded expectations, delivering over 4,200 personalised interactions, against a target of 2,000 interactions. The results of an online questionnaire among service users suggested that following a WhatsApp conversation with an Asthma UK nurse specialist, 93% of users felt better able to manage their asthma, 69% of users had increased confidence in managing their asthma symptoms and attacks, and 40% of users will change the way they manage their asthma. Following the success of the pilot, Asthma UK has received a further grant from the Bupa UK Foundation to develop and extend the service.

Providing carers with personalised information and advice

Carers UK delivers a wide range of personalised information and advice for carers online and also generates additional income for the charity by providing Digital Resources for Carers under licence to companies and to local authorities.  In 2016 funding from the Bupa UK Foundation enabled Carers UK to evaluate the health impact of their digital resources for carers, in turn strengthening the proposition presented to organsiations using the platform. In 2018 the Bupa UK Foundation awarded Carers UK an additional grant to develop their online support further by creating two new e-learning modules offering carers practical advice on physical and mental wellbeing.

Improving access to therapy within the deaf community

Technology is also being harnessed to support and improve mental health within the deaf community. With funding from the Bupa UK Foundation, SignHealth has developed the digital provision of its therapy services in British Sign Language (BSL). This means that therapy services can now be accessed by deaf people via computer, tablet or phone, enabling them to communicate with a therapist in sign language via a visual screen.

Created using Sign Health’s existing platform to enable secure access by clients and therapists, the new service allows people to access six weekly online CBT sessions, with additional one-to-one sessions with an online British Sign Language therapist.