Older adults boost their tech skills in Banner Olive Branch Senior Center’s new computer lab


Senior centers across the country, like the Banner Olive Branch Senior Center in Sun City, AZ, are evolving to address overall wellness for older adults as the model for a senior center of the future is taking form. As part of that holistic package of services – in addition to the healthy, homemade meals provided for low-income seniors – Olive Branch recently opened the doors to a new computer lab.

Left to right are Season Slish, Associate Manager, George Koch, a computer lab user, and Jackie Cromer, Business Support Assistant.

I was not confident using my computer until I took the computer class today at the Banner Olive Branch Senior Center,” says one enthusiastic computer lab user. “The instructor was great and the class was very helpful. I look forward to learning more things over time. This is such a great resource for seniors to learn about technology.”

Funded through a charitable grant from the Maricopa County Department of Public Health Supporting Maricopa County’s Aging and Older Adults Population, the computer lab is outfitted with eight ADA-accessible and flexible workstations with desktop computers, large monitors, the Microsoft Office suite of applications, and internet access, along with an instructor’s area with a podium, computer, and large screen.

“The computer lab is fast becoming a place where our senior community comes to learn how to use technology,” explains Julie Ash, community outreach representative for Olive Branch. “Most of today’s business and personal transactions are online. The computer lab and its classes provide the building blocks needed to master life on the internet.”

With computer literacy courses specifically designed for seniors to enhance technology skills, increase access to telehealth services and address social isolation, the lab will teach participants how to access online health portals, manage their medical care, download telehealth applications, and receive virtual care via telehealth platforms. In addition, they will learn how to use email and social media platforms to stay connected with friends and family, while gaining and understanding of safe internet usage, how to protect their personal information, and avoiding predatory online scams.

“As one of the largest employers in Arizona and one of the largest nonprofit healthcare systems in the country, Banner Health has the stability that comes with success and the desire to collaborate with community partners to bring accurate health information and resources to underserved communities,” explains Laurie Thomas, who manages healthy aging initiatives for the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. “Our mission is to increase the quality of life for our residents by collaborating with the community to develop and implement strategies, programs and services addressing the emerging and changing needs of public health. Maricopa County Department of Public Health is pleased to partner with Banner in offering this full-service computer lab to older adults in the West Valley.”

Since 1988, Banner Olive Branch Senior Center has been providing health care services and more aging and older adults in the Northwest Valley communities of Sun City, Sun City West, Surprise, Youngtown, and El Mirage and beyond. Beginning with a food program in a local church and one loaned vehicle, BOBSC now offers 25 programs and services and has a 16-vehicle fleet. Each year, the center serves approximately 3,300 people, many of whom take advantage of its no-cost or low-cost food programs. These individuals, who combined make more than 36,600 visits annually, have an average age of 76.

Learn more about how you can give the gifts of fellowship, food and dignity to older adults who rely on Banner Olive Branch Senior Center here.