Remote support for older and disabled people: TeamViewer

Shows a screenshot of the TeamViewer website a man sits on top of a mountain working on a computer to imply remote supportAbilityNet volunteers continue to support older and disabled people at home using Remote Access Software TeamViewer – without losing the personal touch. 

Pat Maskell our County Co-ordinator for Cumbria has embraced the TeamViewer software, which allows her to remotely access a client’s computer in order to work alongside them.

One client reported a sluggish PC, which Pat was sure she could help with “sluggish computers are my forte,” she says. “I suggested using TeamViewer to help him.

Installing TeamViewer software

TeamViewer requires both parties to install the software, and so Pat’s first job was to reassure the client about what she was doing. 

“I could hear some concern in his voice and so I was keen to reassure him. I explained what TeamViewer is and that ultimately the power would stay with him – he could cut me off if he wasn’t comfortable with anything I was doing.”

Concerns are valid as many scams do abuse remote access software. AbilityNet volunteers are DBS-checked and won’t install anything without permission. 

Pat used the remote access to install Malwarebytes (a spyware scanner) onto the client’s computer to look for viruses and other malicious software. 

After a 40-minute scan, Malwarebytes revealed a few problems including a software program that had taken over the client’s web browser (Browser hijacker). Together, Pat and her client successfully quarantined the viruses, and the client’s computer is now performing well.

“He said, I can't believe how fast it is. I've since been on to TeamViewer again with him and found that program that was interfering with Google was also stopping some of the windows updates going through, so we have installed those as well,” says Pat.

TeamViewer benefits: a community approach

A picture of a young girl and an older gentleman with glasses sitting in front of a computerPat normally works face-to-face helping people in her community but has found TeamViewer still allows her to connect and keep a community approach. 

“There are all sorts of things that are possible with TeamViewer that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to do,” she says. 

“One minute I can be talking to a client in Devon the next the guy in Hampshire with the sluggish computer and I have also been helping a couple of ladies in London.”

Social connection is as important as the remote access, and Pat, a former sales coordinator, uses the skills she has acquired talking to customers to put AbilityNet clients at their ease. “It is important people are comfortable with me,” she says. 

“Eva in London was having trouble with her scanning and her printer and a couple of other things, and I talked her through it. She told her friend Rose all about me [because] Rose wanted to buy a new computer and so Rose got in touch with AbilityNet. So, I'm kind of building up a community now; that's what I'm all about.”

Read how our volunteers have been bringing communities together during Covid-19


TeamViewer also helps Pat empower people to solve their own problems, an essential part of being an AbilityNet volunteer. 

“You've got to have the time to be able to do it. AbilityNet volunteers have got the time, whereas call centres might read from a script. My first thing is I talk to the person first, find out what the person knows, what I think they're capable of, um, and how best I can approach their problem because it's different for everybody.”

“You're talking to them on the telephone [and] you have got to give that reassurance, as you would when you were sat beside somebody or with somebody. TeamViewer allows you to show somebody how to do it. So it's almost like being there with them.”

Do you have technical and personal skills to help others use technology? Join our volunteers

How to avoid remote access scams

Scammers will use any trick they can to con you out of personal information, money and more – and that includes remote access. One common scam, for example, is receiving a cold call from someone reportedly from Microsoft who offers to identify errors on your computer. They [scammers] remote in, show you fake errors on your computer and then get you to part with money and financial information to ‘fix it’ 

Here are our top tips for avoiding remote access scams.

  1. Beware, cold callers
    Have you called someone for technical support? If you haven’t then the likelihood is it’s a scam. If you’re at all unsure hangup and call the number listed on the company’s website, such as AbilityNet’s Helpline 0800 048 7642. Watch out for callers who give you a number to ring as this could be part of the scam.
  2. Password protection
    Don’t share passwords. Where someone genuine is helping you, they’ll ask you to enter the details where needed – when installing or updating software for example.

How AbilityNet can help

AbilityNet provides a range of free services to help disabled people and older people.

  • Call our free Helpline. Our friendly, knowledgeable staff will discuss any kind of computer problem and do their best to come up with a solution. We're open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm on 0800 048 7642
  • We have a range of factsheets that talk in detail about technology that might help you, which you can download for free. You may find our factsheets about voice recognition and keyboard alternatives useful.
  • My Computer My Way. A free interactive guide to all the accessibility features built into current desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Support AbilityNet

If you're able to help us, help others please donate to AbilityNet

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