Elderly people who live in rural areas could be unable to access assistive technologies and other healthcare solutions because of poor broadband limiting their internet access, a report has claimed.
Assistive technology and products such as Alexa, many of which rely on internet connectivity, are designed to be a cost-effective way of helping elderly people to stay living at home for longer.
But the Local Government Association has warned that people outside of cities with slow internet could prevent them using smart devices in the home.
The report estimated that by 2039 there would be 53 people aged 65 or over for every 100 working people aged 16 to 64.
The government is keen to make use of assistive devices in the coming years as social care budgets come under increasing pressure and cheaper solutions are needed.
The report said there was “still an unmistakable digital divide in the country between urban and nonmetropolitan areas”.
“The Commission has also received evidence from areas that some of the most significant savings within healthcare costs lie in the development of technologies that will allow rural communities to be looked after with smart devices, negating some of the need for outreach services.
“However, as detailed previously, issues with digital connectivity in non-metropolitan areas remain a barrier to their implementation on a wider scale.”
Cllr Mark Hawthorne, chairman of the LGA’s people and places board, told The Telegraph: “Rural areas face a perfect storm. It is increasingly difficult for people to buy a home in their local community, mobile and broadband connectivity can be patchy, and people living within rural and deeply rural communities face increasing isolation from health services.”