Ten examples of interventions in the field of participation of older people

26 juni 2014

Putting your knowledge, expertise and experience to good use as long as possible. That is the right road towards healthy and active ageing. Society also benefits when seniors continue to invest their talents. Many social service organisations actively involve older people in society. Have a look at ten examples of interventions in the field of participation of older people included in Movisie’s social interventions database. In our database the full range of social welfare issues can be found. The description of the interventions in the database is in Dutch.

1. GRIP&GLOW group course

The GRIP&GLOW (GRIP & GLANS) group course teaches women over 55 who are (psychosocially) vulnerable, how they can actively improve their own well-being and take their lives into their own hands (again). This course also contributes to diminishing loneliness.

Research into the practical experiences shows that the trainers who are conducting the courses in general are very positive about the course and the results achieved with the participants. Most of them find the manual clear, useful and attractive. The participants themselves give an average score of 7,9 out of 10. One experimental study has been conducted into the effects of the G&G group course. The results show that the course led to a substantial increase in self-management skills and well-being, and a decrease in loneliness. These positive effects remain visible after six months.

2. Study Circles by and for older people

Study Circles (Studiekringen voor en door ouderen) by and for older people aim to get older people into contact with each other and to use each others’ knowledge and expertise. All members of a Study Circle contribute in selecting and preparing a topic for discussion. A Study Circle Counsellor offers support until the group is ready to function independently.

Change research indicates that, after participating in the Study Circle, older people score better on participation and contact. Almost 40% of respondents manage to get out of their isolated position through participation and improve their contact with friends, relatives and acquaintances.

In addition, over 60% start or increase participation in civil society or neighbourhood activities and almost 70% have met new people. No research has been conducted into practical experiences yet.

3. Unheard of Talent course

The course Unheard of Talent (Ongekend talent) encourages seniors to explore their talents and actively put them to use in society. The course is presented by volunteer trainers who have first followed a train-the-trainer course. Over the course of five meetings each participant determines a goal, makes a plan and proceeds to carry it out.

In the evaluation study participants indicate that designing a structure for one’s plans is an important step in exploring one’s own talents. The course teaches participants how to break through barriers and how to handle the expectations of others. Working with ambassadors has proved to be important forrecruiting participants. There are no known studies into the effects of this method.

4. 50Plusnet

50Plusnet is an on-line meeting place for people over 50 who wish to extend their social networks. 50Plusnet’s aim is to decrease and prevent loneliness and social isolation. Social service providers can develop a local portal for the community. In this way they allow easy access to people over 50 in their region.

Evaluation research shows that 50Plusnet works well as a digital meeting place. More than 30,000 members are active on-line. Participants are very positive. It is an easy way to get in touch with people with similar interests.

5. Seniors for … your municipality

The method ‘Seniors for … your municipality’ (Senioren voor …uw gemeente) aims to match seniors and volunteer organisations. During a meeting with seniors aged 63 and 64, volunteer organisations present their offer of activities and older volunteers relate their experiences. The stage of life and the wishes of the target audience take central position. The method has already been applied in many municipalities. The municipality, a social services provider and if possible a volunteer centre cooperate.

In the evaluation participating seniors indicate that they have acquired more insight in the opportunities for volunteer effort in their municipality. The stories of older volunteers are very much appreciated. The coordinators who organise the meeting are positive about the practical application of the method. They find that good cooperation between stakeholders is crucial for success. There are no known effect studies of the method.

6. Feel like being friends course

Feel like being friends (Zin in vriendschap) is a course for women aged 55 and over, aiming to diminish or prevent feelings of loneliness. In twelve weekly lessons participants work on actively engaging in new friendships or improving  existing friendships.

Practice shows that the participants feel better after the course and take concrete steps to improve their friendships. Three effect studies demonstrate that the participants really have more friends and feel less lonely.

7. Visiting services for widows and widowers

The method ‘Visiting services for widows and widowers’ (Bezoekdienst voor weduwen en weduwnaars) offers concrete support in dealing with bereavement. The aim is to decrease the possibility of loneliness and social exclusion. Once or twice a month volunteers with hands-on experience visit people who have recently lost a partner.

Internal evaluations show that the personal contacts between volunteers and people visited works well. The volunteer has the opportunity to use his or her own experiences with grief and bereavement in a positive way. Effect research demonstrates that the method is effective for socially lonely, lower educated

8. Heading for the golden years

The objective of Heading for the golden years (Op weg naar de Gouden Jaren) is to contribute to successful ageing. During the course older people learn skills to deal proactively with possible future problems. This increases their self-reliance.

Participants are positive about the method. A majority feels the course is easy to do. Effect research shows that the course actively improves proactive skills.

9. Ageing in the Netherlands in the 21st century

The information programme ‘Ageing in the Netherlands in the 21st century’ (Voorlichtingsprogramma Ouder worden in Nederland in de 21e eeuw) focuses on migrants and refugees of 50 years and older. The objective is to support them in active and independent ageing, where they make their own informed choices and consider their needs in the field of housing, care and welfare. The programme consists of several practical meetings which focus on the individual’s ideas and expectations.

There are no known studies into the practical experiences or effects of this method.

10. Activating home visits with elderly people

Activating home visits with elderly people (Activerend huisbezoek bij ouderen) is a method to improve or restore the self-reliance and the well-being of people aged 55 and over. It concerns older people who live independently but have lost their balance in life.

Practical experience show that the method meets a need: older people breathe more easily when they are able to talk things over with a home visitor. Activating home visits do require specialised volunteers who need training and support. Effect research provides indications for the effectiveness of home visits in general. There has been no study into the effect of activating home visits.

Database for social interventions

Movisie established a database for social interventions at the request of the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. Interventions may be aimed at neighbourhood development, volunteering, loneliness, participation and activation, informal care, domestic violence, sexual violence, cultural diversity, care and shelter. We endeavour to produce accessible and wellfounded tools that allow social professionals to work with interventions that have proved their worth. You can visit the database in Dutch: www.movisie.nl/effectievesocialeinterventies.

For more information, please contact Peter Rensen or Martijn Bool.