The Switchover Help Scheme

Date: 14.11.0012     Last updated: 18.08.2014 at 15.36
Category: TV; Radio

The Switchover Help Scheme was run by the BBC under an agreement with the Government. From 2007 – 2012 it offered eligible older and disabled people across the UK practical help to switch one TV set to digital.

The help included easy-to-use equipment, installation, with an aerial upgrade if needed, and 12 months free aftercare. People were eligible if they were aged 75 or more, eligible for certain disability benefits, living in a care home long-term, or registered blind or partially sighted.

More than seven million households were offered this help. Most were asked to contribute £40, with eligible people also on income-related benefits offered the help free.

Working in partnership

The Help Scheme provided practical help to over 1.3 million older and disabled people.

The Help Scheme has produced a series of short videos that demonstrate how working together with local volunteers, individuals and organisations across the UK helped reach those who needed the help the most. There are also videos demonstrating the Help Scheme's specially designed easy to use equipment and tailored service.

The 101 Stories booklet brings the Help Scheme to life through stories gathered from volunteers, staff and eligible people themselves.

Listening & learning

The delivery of a national scheme to reach some of the most vulnerable in society presented many challenges. The Help Scheme continued to listen to and to learn from older and disabled people throughout the lifetime of the scheme so that it could continually improve engagement and delivery.

Some of the lessons the Help Scheme learnt may be useful for other organisations working with older and disabled people or delivering similar projects. The Help Scheme has separated its key findings into nine summary papers:

  • Understanding Our Customers - summarises the work carried out in understanding older and disabled customers from initial pre-launch thinking and trials, through to nationwide delivery.
  • Engaging with Our Customerssets out how, through advertising, direct mail, PR and outreach, the Help Scheme reached out to all eligible people and let them know about the help available.
  • Governance and Partnershipexplains governance arrangements, performance measures (particularly delivering value for money) and working in partnership with other stakeholders.
  • Delivering a High Quality Service - describes the work carried out in designing and running a nationwide scheme to provide practical assistance for the seven million UK households eligible for help.
  • Procuring and Managing the Contract - explains how the BBC procured and managed the contracts to deliver the Help Scheme and sets out the lessons learned, together with the views of their service provider.
  • Data Management and Information Security outlines how the data necessary to run the Help Scheme was acquired and managed and details the associated information security and other measures taken.
  • Developing Easy to Use Equipment - sets out how the Help Scheme developed easy to use equipment in consultation with eligible older and disabled people.
  • Delivering the Help Scheme to Care Homes - seeks to explain how the Help Scheme’s service provider operationally delivered the service to care homes.
  • Programme Management and Business Planning - describes lessons learnt from supporting operations throughout the lifetime of the scheme.

Understanding older and disabled people

The Help Scheme was designed and run to serve the needs of eligible older and disabled people. The Government carried out research with eligible people and their friends and family when it was designing the Help Scheme. The Help Scheme continued this research and refinement throughout its operation to make sure eligible people benefited from lessons learned about communications and service.

The Help Scheme and Government also sought advice from expert organisations. Some of the research carried out may be useful to other bodies seeking to understand older and disabled people and their relationship with technology and change:

Research carried out before the Switchover Help Scheme started:

Research carried out by the Switchover Help Scheme: