Older adult perspectives on their role in a Community-Based Health Profession Education Project
Background and Aims: Although 18.7 million adults ages 55 and older volunteer in their communities each
year, it is unclear which factors motivate them to participate in community-based education programs, such as
the Partners in Care program. Partners in Care pairs medical, physical therapy, and nursing students together
to conduct home care visits with older adults. This project seeks to understand how older adults define their
role as educators and learn which factors motivate them to volunteer.
Methods: This mixed-methods study employed a survey measuring attitudes about volunteering and an optional
focus group. The research team developed the survey tool, which included 25 Likert scale items and two
open-ended questions. The focus group consisted of 13 randomly selected program volunteers.
Results: A total of 101 surveys were sent with a response rate of 62%. Respondents’ ages ranged from 65
to > 80. Alpha factor analysis of the survey and thematic analysis of focus group data revealed seven themes
for why older adults volunteer: altruism, personal development, feeling part of a community, education of
students, uniqueness of program, engagement with students, and sharing unique health experiences as older
adults. Feedback and suggestions were also collected.
Conclusions: Partners in Care provides students with an opportunity to engage older adults, meet established
geriatric competencies, and gain insight into interprofessional teamwork. By understanding older adults’ perspectives
on their role as educators, we hope to improve volunteer satisfaction, expand the program, and
encourage further interactions between older adults and health professional students.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
© Società Italiana di Gerontologia e Geriatria (SIGG) , 2018
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