Research shows many over-70s are tech-savvy but left out in the design of online public sector services

Despite older people embracing technology to take advantage of online services, a new study from Civica has found that just 31 percent of public sector leaders actively involve those aged 70+ when designing services and just over half have specific services designed to support this age group.
This puts the UK’s older generations at risk of missing out on the benefits of rapid advances in technology at a time when the need for online communications is more important than ever, says Civica, a specialist in software for public services.
The ‘A WORD FROM THE WISE’ study comprised of focus groups of over-70s from across the UK, coupled with surveys of UK adults and public sector leaders. It set out to turn perceptions of the elderly’s use of technology on its head, showing the vast benefits that technology can have for older generations and demonstrating their eagerness to use it.
Over-70s embrace technology
The research found a high level of technology usage for those aged 70 and over, with just under two-thirds of respondents using a smartphone daily, 84 percent confirming they are very or somewhat comfortable using a laptop and just over a quarter owning a smart speaker.
Additionally, Civica’s study found that this age group are experienced online users of public services. Over two-thirds have applied for a passport/driving licence or bus pass online (higher than any other age group) and 60 percent have experience in booking GP and hospital appointments or have ordered repeat prescriptions online.
The study also revealed the over-70s see the positive benefits in newer technologies to further improve public services. Around 58 percent confirmed biometric technology such as facial or fingerprint recognition can improve security, with a further 60 percent seeing AI enhancing medical processes.
Tony Hughes, Executive Director for Local Government at Civica, said: “Our new research shows that the over 70s appreciate and enjoy using online services. They are equipped, savvy and ready to engage. Public services are playing a vital role in delivering services in these exceptional circumstances and the findings give leaders reassurance that technology can further support this age group.
“With the over 70s accounting for 15% of the UK population – almost nine million people and growing – it should be a priority for all organisations to ensure this generation is factored into new digital developments and current online offerings.
“This is especially important as we move out of COVID-19 restrictions, providing public sector organisations with the chance to rethink and reshape services in light of new and current needs.”
Include over-70s in service design
The public sector leaders surveyed confirmed 81 percent include citizens in designing their services. However, only 31 percent of those citizens were aged 70 and over. This is despite the fact that the over-70s...