Meet Ronan, our new Digital Skills Support

Who am I?

My name is Ronan and I am now 3 weeks into my role as Digital Skills support at Leuchie House. Before my time at Leuchie I worked within the sales and marketing world with varying roles from fixing and selling phones, running social media channels, managing advertising campaigns and attending trade shows around the world. I've always had a deep interest in technology and all of my life I've delved into building computers, programming and fixing tech. I enjoyed my previous roles but I felt like I needed a change in purpose and wanted to do something that would directly impact people and improve their lives.

The opportunity to work as a digital skills support at Leuchie House immediately caught my interest and the more I learned about this role I realised the incredible impact it can have on our guests with some simple off the shelf solutions or adaptions to their current devices.

What is a Digital Skills Support?

Here at Leuchie House we have guests with a range of different neurological conditions and guests have a range of abilities.  Most guests already use some type of technology on a day-to-day basis. Not all technology is designed to be as accessible as it could be. We feel that everyone should be able to use technology regardless of their ability. That’s where I come in, thanks to The Alliance, who funded this role.  

When a guest visits Leuchie House, often they will come with some type of tablet, phone, laptop or voice assistant to use during their stay.The vast majority of those who visit will not have their devices set up in an appropriate way to suit their needs. As tech becomes more and more accessible and now includes features to help users get the most use of their devices it's becoming much more clear that technology can have a massive impact on people’s lives.

During a respite break I offer a group workshop and 1-1 consultations with guests and we discuss what they may struggle with in their daily life and how technology may impact that. We can work with their own device at this point and work on certain adjustments and other technologies to make it easier to use. We can also set up our technology for guests to test out whilst at Leuchie. The session is guided by the guest and their wishes and I will make recommendations, adjustments and optimize the technology to get the best use they possibly can. Optimizing technology can be anything from adding accessibility software to their device, testing accessories and even things as simple as downloading apps on their phone. Overall our aim is to enable guests to access their technology so they can maximise its functions. I then follow this up with a guest when they return home and if needed I can forward more information or instructions.  We can also refer a guest to a local OT within their area or to a charity called AbilityNet who have a bank of volunteers who can visit a guest in their home to assist with technology, although unfortunately they are not doing home visits in the current climate.  I am excited to share with the wider community some of our learnings, tips and practical advice in the coming months. 

What I have done so far?

I'm 3 weeks into this role and after working with a number of guests, I have seen first-hand the practical, emotional and mental impact that optimizing a piece of technology can have on a guest.  I’m excited to continue to broaden my knowledge of technology available and to work more with my colleague Elizabeth who has done a huge amount of work to date on testing devices. I've met with many guests and recommended some simple solutions as well as more in depth work.  I'm looking forward to following up with guests who I've already had sessions with and meeting new guests in holidays to come.  

After only a short time in the role, I can already say this has been the most rewarding and impactful job I have ever had.