Tech’s a grey area no more

"YOU'RE never too old to learn" could be Fran Simmich's motto, after the 90-year-old graduated from a computer course at her Bupa Banora Point aged care home.

Ms Simmich was one of 17 participants in the Tech Savvy Seniors course run by ACE Community Colleges and will add her new technical skills to embroidery in the portfolio of activities that keep her hands busy and brain active.

She and the others, including 96-year-old Emily Tunin, learned to find their way around computers, access websites that show them how to draft pictures, play games and design calendars and Christmas cards to send out to their children and grandchildren.

For some of the more rock'n'roll inclined in the class, YouTube proved a treasure chest, allowing "a couple of the guys" to access clips from the Doobie Brothers and other favourites.

Another resident, Carol Deeny, is using her new-found skills to compile a cookery book of recipes from her peers in the home and Bupa staff. She will also contribute to the home's monthly newsletter.

Mrs Simmich admits that the new learning "took a while to sink in", and that the ACE staff "had the patience of Job".

"I've tried computers before but I never caught on," she said.

She will have the opportunity to back up what she has learned in the classes with further sessions in the New Year.

And the home is buying some iPads for residents to use to make it easier for them to keep in contact with their loved ones using Skype and email.

The residents' satisfaction at mastering the skills to navigate the information superhighway is mirrored by staff at the home.

"It's given our staff a tremendous buzz," said the director, Letitia Quirk. "We're thrilled to see such constructive learning."

And what's next for Mrs Simmich? "Texting," she said.

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