Older people will be taught how to use technology in a number of “smart homes” to help boost digital skills in West Essex.

The initiative, which is being led by Uttlesford Council for Voluntary Service, involves assessed home owners having their properties kitted out in the latest technology.

They will then open their doors for older people to visit so they can learn how to make the most of smart technology to control household appliances, book GP appointments online, contact friends and family by video, and shop online.

So-called ‘digital buddies’ will also be on hand to offer any additional support required.

The programme is one of three to be given a share of £400,000 by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to improve older and disabled people’s lives through the Digital Inclusion Innovation Fund.

Clive Emmett, chief executive of Uttlesford Council for Voluntary Service, said: “Organisations across Essex are backing the digital boomers which will see older people redesign their relationship using technology to become even more tech confident and retain their independence for longer.

“Thanks to the Digital Inclusion Fund, our exciting Living Smart Homes and Digital Buddies pilots will help us rethink how older people use digital to support their health, wellbeing and independence.”

The funding will also go towards developing an app for people with Down’s Syndrome who are classed as overweight or obese to manage their weight and exercise levels from their smartphone.

The app, being developed by the Down’s Syndrome Association, is the first of it’s kind specifically designed for those with the condition and will focus on connecting people living in the same area to combat loneliness.

It’s hoped the project will develop technology to allow users to report their health on a daily basis; provide consultations when they are needed; be a cost effective way to help patients maintain regular appointments; and support carers and family members.