Pensioner keeps in touch with friends thanks to Sparko set-top box

By Rafi Mauro-Benady

A senior citizen’s life has been made a whole lot easier as a result of a new device which helps her keep in touch with friends.

Christine Scales, 72, from Brixton, says she’s been using a new set-top box called ‘Sparko’ to keep in touch with friends and help with her exercises during lockdown.

Ms Scales, a former nurse at St Thomas’ hospital who lives alone in sheltered accommodation and suffers from a disability, says she is not good with technology, but now uses Sparko every day.

Sparko is designed for older people who are not tech-savvy, and it works via a box connected to the television which allows unlimited communication and entertainment.

It is controlled via a simplified remote control.

The new device comes with a human touch as a dedicated coordinator helps with social and technical support, safety and security, as well as with medication reminders.

Users can enjoy live interactive classes such as languages lessons, cooking and fitness, as well as talking to each other.

Ms Scales said: “Without it I don’t know what I’d do.

“Sparko’s wonderful, during this lockdown people haven’t been able to get together to talk to one another.

“It’s wonderful because it brings your friends right into wherever you are.

“If your friends come into your front room, they can come in when you turn Sparko on, or wherever you’ve got the TV.”

She added Sparko has been essential in helping her do her medical exercises.

Christine said: “During Coronavirus people were saying to me “I can’t get out to do my exercises,” and then they’re saying “oh I suppose you cannot do ur exercises”.

“So I said “yes I’ve done my exercises”, They asked how, and I said “’I have sparko’,”

Almost three-quarters of elderly people in the UK say they feel lonely, according to a survey of more than 1,000 people carried out by the Joe Cox Commission on Loneliness.

Ms Scales said: “I wouldn’t be without it because it has changed my life.

“I can ring anyone and we can see each other straight away.

“I love dancing so I asked them to put some dance videos on and now I dance in my living room.

“I like doing exercises and now I can use these lovely exercise classes on my telly.”

Sparko is endorsed by several Age UK organisations and allows the elderly to remain independent and active within the local community.

The kit costs £189 inclusive of one month service fee.

The monthly service fee is £19.90, with a special offer of £9.90 per month for the first year.

Pictured top: Christine Scales

 


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