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Isolated elders demonstration project : closer to home - a descriptive evaluation

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The purpose of this demonstration project is to support isolated elders through outreach. The goal is to get seniors "out of their homes" and back into the community, assisting them to make decisions and take action on their own behalf. The process involved training a group of volunteers to interview elders, using a mini-life review technique to encourage reminiscence. In listening to their stories, the volunteer's task was to discover the elder's needs and barriers to socialization, and to link them to community resources. Objectives of the project were: (1) To recruit and train volunteers in interviewing and assessing need; (2) To identify isolated elders in the community; (3) To offer elders an opportunity to be connected with a peer; (4) To link elders to programs and services; (5) To reduce hospital utilization by elders over time; and (6) To evaluate the project formatively and summatively. The project spanned a 15-month period and involved an average of one day per week of the project manager's time. The process of development and evaluation satisfies the criteria for participatory research promoted by the B.C. Health Promotion Consortium-i.e., it combines community development, education, and research. The project was divided into three phases reflecting the primary focus of activities: (I) community development; (II) training volunteers; and (III) connecting elders.
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