Case study: Digital inclusion for social health impact

Partners: The Health Foundation’s Q Lab, West Middlesex University Hospital, Hounslow Council, CW Innovation

ICHP was commissioned by Hounslow Council and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS FT’s Digital Inclusion for Social and Health Impact initiative (DISH), to lead its community engagement strand, as part of a wider aim to: 

  • Improve access to technology and digital health services delivered at the hospital 
  • Close gaps in digital literacy experienced by residents and therefore reduce health inequalities  

Hounslow is home to ~330,000 people speaking over 180 languages, with digitally excluded communities. As part of this strategic engagement, which would establish and embed sustainable models of working and ongoing collaboration between the project partners, we worked closely with multiple patient and community groups across Hounslow. This included groups more likely to experience higher levels of digital exclusion: 

  • Learn Hounslow: Provider of adult and community education courses 
  • ILAYS: Non-profit organisation for the East African community in West London 
  • SHEWISE: Supporting the development of vulnerable women’s education, economic and social welfare  
  • Bristol Court: Assisted living residence  
  • Middlesex Association for the Blind  

A series of focus groups involving more than 70 residents collated insights providing a rich understanding of some of the key barriers to using technology, including access to devices, security concerns and accessibility for those with additional needs.  

These insights were used to inform the development of adult learning material – complementing Hounslow’s existing Digital Champions initiative and increasing the level of digital support available to residents who could benefit.  

Learnings from the project have been shared more widely, via The Health Foundation and the NW London Digital Inclusion Steering Group, to inform wider best practice. 

“Partnership working and close collaboration with our local communities is key to understanding and overcoming barriers that exacerbate health inequalities. This community engagement led by ICHP enabled us to understand how digital exclusion impacts some of our most vulnerable residents, and how we can better support them through new and existing digital assets and learning opportunities.” Dr Sadia Khan, Consultant Cardiologist, West Middlesex University Hospital