Staying connected with Dossy

Staying connected to our loved ones and community is important for both our mental and physical wellbeing. That’s why Uniting AgeWell has partnered with, the University of Melbourne and Ageing with Grace, to trial an innovative new app designed to do just that.

Alex Reid recently turned 100 and can’t speak highly enough of the Dossy app. He uses it daily to connect with his favourite people, including his eldest daughter Patricia who lives in country Victoria and his younger brother Colin, in Bundaberg, Queensland. In fact, he’s got five generations of family at the touch of a button.

In collaboration with our research partners, and with grant funding from the second round of the ARIIA Grants Program, Uniting AgeWell is trialling Dossy, an easy-to-use video calling app, with Alex and nearly 30 other Home Care customers. All participants in the trial receive a video-enabled device (iPad), internet connectivity and the app for free.

“The program aims to reduce social isolation and loneliness by helping connect Uniting AgeWell clients with their families, loved ones and a dedicated team of Dossy volunteers, in an intuitive and meaningful way.”

What is Dossy?

  • It’s a video calling application (app) designed for older adults living independently in their own homes;
  • It’s designed specifically for low vision, low tech and hearing-impaired users with features like hearing aid connect, guided access, larger fonts and optimised sound. Alex has certainly found the app very easy to use, and so has his daughter and great granddaughter who regularly use it to check in on him.
  • Has a Community Connect function to enable the user to connect to a volunteer who is available for a chat. Topics of conversation might be general interests, family, holidays, career or working life, pets, hobbies, news and events, movies, cooking, TV shows and more.

Early positive results

Participants taking part in the Dossy trial have reported:

  • An increase in social connectedness through regular video calls with family and close friends; and
  • A sense of increased involvement in family life.

Alex is still chatty at 100

There couldn’t be anyone more fitting for the trial than Alex, who has spent a lifetime perfecting his gift of the gab as a bus driver and cabby. “Day and night I would pick up passengers and talk to them,” he says. And there was never a dull conversation, with stories of his time in the occupation forces in Hiroshima Japan following the atom bomb and how he earned the nickname, The Great AL (Alexander Lawrence) for his sporting prowess.

One of his favourite stories is how he met his late wife Betty at the skating rink. “I had my eye on her all night, then I decided it was time to sweep her off her feet - literally,” he says. “I got my mate to knock her off her skates and then I helped her up like the hero. We got married three weeks later.”

Alex says he finally told his wife that story on their 50th wedding anniversary. “She had half a glass of water in her hand and she threw it at me. She was so angry. Later she came and gave me a kiss and we had a good chuckle.”

Alex couldn’t be happier with Dossy, and feels confident initiating video calls from the comfort of his own home in Braybrook, where he has lived for the past 75 years. “The more you laugh, the happier you make everybody,” he says. “And I just love a good chat and a laugh.”

Read more about Uniting AgeWell’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework here