When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the uptake of QR code technology was swift, but there was still an option for the less tech-savvy to manually record their details when they went out for a coffee or a meal.
- Youngster.co is teaching the elderly how to use QR codes during the COVID-19 pandemic
- The pilot project puts tech savvy youngsters in libraries
- Elderly users say the project has given them the confidence to seek out more technology
At the end of November, the New South Wales Government made electronic check-ins, usually via QR Codes, mandatory, leaving many older Australians confused about how to use the technology.
The founder of Coffs Harbour-based social technology company Youngster.co, Tony Rothacker, saw an opportunity to step in and fill the knowledge void.
“We have paired up with the State Library and we’re piloting in a selection of libraries to actually base our youngsters [in them],” he said.
Pivoting to meet the needs of the elderly
Youngster.co aims to pair tech-savvy teens with technically challenged older community members, resulting in jobs for the “youngsters” and company and connection for their elderly students.
The initial idea of Youngster.co was to operate in aged care homes, but when COVID-19 hit Mr Rothacker was forced to pivot his business model.
“So imagine if you have, like a JP at the library signing documents, our youngsters will now be located at libraries helping seniors with their technology challenges.”
Know-how builds confidence
Technology had always been a challenge for 80-year-old Ruth Holmes, who lives in the small hinterland village of Dorrigo. But a session with two of Youngster.co’s educators boosted her confidence with using QR codes and her phone in general.
“They were wonderful,” she said.
Instructors showed Ms Holmes how to download the Service NSW app and how to use it.
She said it has given her the confidence to look for more apps for her phone.
“The other thing I asked them is about is the frog-identifying app, and next week I want to find out what plants I have on my property, so I think there’s a plant ID app that they might be able to help me with,” Ms Holmes said.
Mr Rothacker said the pilot program will run until the end of January on the Mid North Coast.
“If it goes well, we will hopefully roll it out across NSW,” he said.