In the modern human society diverse groups of people live and develop together. This is true about various racial and religious groups, as well as people that differ according to their sexual preferences and political beliefs. However, some of those groups often feel discriminated, underestimated, or unheard in the society. Every social group of people might become subjected to discrimination, and as older adults are one of such groups, they need considerable socially accepted steps to be taken to change the situation (Hooyman and Kiyak, 2008, p. 89). The proposed project aims at increasing the communication between the youth and older adults, which, as a result, is expected to facilitate greater self-esteem and feeling of importance in the society for elderly people. This aim is expected to be achieved through using the volunteer work of school students. The proposal will be presented to the Board of Directors at Cathedral High School, Indianapolis, IN., and the CEO Steven Helmick.
Project Development and Refinement
The scholarly project should have a proper structure from the very beginning. The proposed project will start with the actual development and refinement of all its stages in the written form. The point is to provide clear understanding of what the project will aim at and how it will achieve its goals. To do this, the proposed project involving the volunteering work by school students with older adults will need to:
- Have the clear outline of main project stages;
- Present the duties of all project participants in a comprehensive manner;
- Develop an achievable project timeframe.
Needless to say, the first point from the list is of crucial importance because the development of the project structure is the basis for all further project modifications. Accordingly, the proposed community elders’ project will follow this course of activities:
- Interviews with selected older adults;
- Arrangement of the volunteering work;
- Theoretical and practical training classes for recruited volunteers;
- Working suggestions and distribution of duties;
- Community elders’ project as such;
- Assessment of the project success.
One of the basics of the project is volunteer work. So, the volunteers selected for the participation in the proposed project will have specific tasks to fulfill while working. There will be two basic types of duties distribution for the volunteering students:
- Every volunteer will be provided with a list of working suggestions that he/she might find useful while working with the community elders. These suggestions will be based on relevant scholarly theories of caring of elderly people. The results of the elders’ interviews will also be taken into account while compiling those suggestions.
- Every volunteer will be assigned with particular obligatory tasks to fulfill during the project. It is expected that these tasks will be based on the needs and preferences of elders that they express during the interviews.
Timing of the project is also its essential feature. The currently developed timeframe for the project is between March, 2010 and September, 2010. This timeframe is, however, not the final one, as such details of the project as the elderly people selection and volunteer recruitment might affect the timeframe in respect of its lengthening or shortening. The final project timeframe will be developed after the expected number of volunteers is selected and the duties are distributed. Such an approach, according to Miller (2008, p. 521), will allow the project developers to provide community elders with the services of the highest quality.
Selection of Older Adults to Participate in the Project
Search for the Needed Number of Older Adults of Various Groups
The project should have two parties, i. e. volunteers and elders of whom the former will take care. Accordingly, the next step in the development of the proposed project will be the selection of elderly people to make the sample of participants that represent all possible categories of elders found in the specific community. In more detail, the selection of elders to participate in the proposed project will be carried out according to the following criteria:
- Personal background;
- Age group;
- Health conditions;
- Presence or absence of special needs;
- Family and marital status;
- Geographical location.
Such an approach to participants’ selection will allow the research developers to study the problem comprehensively and make sure that all possible groups of elderly people obtain the benefits of the volunteering program.
Discussion of Their Participation with Older Adults
Ethical considerations also play an important role in project development. Thus, ethics of the current project will be ensured by respecting the rights of its participants for privacy. No one can involve a person into any activity without his/her consent, and therefore any details of the project will be discussed with the elderly participants (Social support and self-reported health status of older adults in the United States, 2009, p. 1873). The process of participants’ selection will be first carried out by the project developers, exclusively on the basis of the above listed criteria. However, the next step will be the discussion of his/her participation in the project with every elderly person selected. Their official consent to participate will serve as the only possible factor according to which the project developers will confirm their participation.
Recruitment is a complex process that requires consent of both sides for joint work. Volunteer recruitment will be the two-fold process in its nature. The two stages of this process are:
- Discussion of the possibility of their students’ participation with the Cathedral High School, Indianapolis, IN.;
- Interview of every particular student expressing the wish to volunteer for the project. The purposes of the interview include ethical considerations and determination of every student’s fitness for the proposed project goals.
Addressing the Cathedral High School, Indianapolis, IN. to recruit volunteers to the proposed project will be beneficial in two respects. First, the volunteer students will gain experience of caring of elderly people, which might help them in further career development. Second, the school students will become able to fulfill their duty, as, according to the law, every school student has to do 60 hours of volunteer work in the community.
Interviewing Potential Volunteers
Personal communication is another essential feature of the project. The major goals of the volunteer interviews are also two-fold. On the one hand, these interviews will be carried out to ensure the proper ethical character of the volunteer works. This means that it is impossible for any student to become recruited as a volunteer without his/her official consent, or the consent of their parents if the schools students have not reached the age to make such decisions alone. On the other hand, the interviews with potential volunteers will enable project managers to understand which of those school students possess the necessary qualities and commitments to work in elderly care projects. In particular, potential volunteers might be asked questions like:
- What are the implications of volunteering in this project for you?
- How do you see your future career?
- What, as you think, are major areas where elderly people in our community need help nowadays?
Such questions will be developed in order not to make students give answers but to obtain objective attitudes they display. As well, the potential volunteers are expected not to feel uncomfortable or under pressure during the interviews.
Interviewing Older Adults
Collecting the Data
To achieve goals, one must first know them. Drawing from this, the fourth step in the development of the proposed project is interviewing the older adults selected as participants to the volunteer caring initiative. Such a step will, first of all, allow the project managers to know what the elderly people lack and what they need. On the basis of these data, the project managers will also be able to develop and distribute the duties and working suggestions to the selected volunteers. To put it shortly, it is easier to do the work, when you know exactly what should be done. Accordingly, if the project managers what elderly people need, it will be much easier for them and for the volunteers to provide the elders with the necessary care.
Analysis of Data
Needless to say, the analysis of the data collected while interviewing the elderly project participants will bring much to the development of the whole work. The project managers will build their activities on the basis of these data, and the volunteers will be assigned with tasks reflecting the needs of the elders. The analysis of the preliminary conducted interviews with elderly people reveals that these project participants have two major kinds of needs. First of all, they are lonely and need someone to talk with, to go out with, and just to discuss some past memories with. Second, the interviewed elders reported the impossibility of leaving their accommodations as often as they wish. Having no company, these people either have no desire to leave their homes or are afraid to do so, as there will be no one to help them in case of emergency. So, the proposed project will try to solve these issues faced by elderly people.
Training is essential for people taking up new activities. The challenging task of volunteering for elderly people will be supported, for the project volunteers, by training initiatives that the project managers consider crucial. These initiatives will be divided into theoretical and practical training classes. The theoretical training process for the project volunteers will consist of two major activities as well:
- Studying major theories of elderly people care;
- Understanding the importance of students’ volunteering for the elderly people.
The theoretical training classes will be carried out prior to the practical training ones. Such an approach is expected to provide the volunteers with the necessary knowledge base to better perceive and realize their practical project tasks.
The theoretical training activities will be followed by the steps in practical volunteer training. As far as the major needs of the elderly people, according to the preliminary interviews’ results, are attention, company, and help in leaving their homes and participating in the active life, the students will need to master good communication skills. At the same time, work with the elders, according to Hooyman and Kiyak (2008, p. 118) and Miller (2008, p. 82), is always associated with risk of health complications and problems. Accordingly, to be ready for presenting the first help in emergency cases, the volunteers should also have basic nursing knowledge. So, the practical training classes will be divided into two main components:
- Volunteers will attend classes to enhance their communication skills, like attentive listening, polite talking, etc.;
- Volunteers will study the basics of first medical help; during these classes, the telephone numbers of emergency services will be provided for the volunteers to help them solve issues they cannot deal with alone.
The most time and effort consuming stage of the proposed project will be the very practical part of the volunteering initiative. This will be the stage during which the volunteers will take care of elderly people, while the project managers will supervise, correct, and analyze their work. The preliminary course of events during the proposed project is expected to include:
- Distribution of working duties and suggestions to volunteers;
- Introduction of volunteers to the elderly people they will take care of during the project;
- Volunteering work by the selected students;
- Objective assessment of the results of the proposed project.
Further on, there is a vital need to assess and report the result of the project to all the parties concerned (Hooyman and Kiyak, 2008, p. 121). So, the results of the current project will be assessed on the basis of the records kept by volunteers. As well, surveys will be carried out to monitor the levels of satisfaction that older adults will display in the services they receive from the project volunteers (Miller, 2008, p. 93). All the parties involved in the realization of the proposed project will get reports with the results of all the activities planned and exercised. The reports, apart from minor details, will contain details of:
- Use of the provided project finding;
- The comparative analysis of the actual project results against its expected outcomes;
- Conclusions and recommendations for similar projects (Hooyman and Kiyak, 2008, p. 124; Miller, 2008, p. 95).
Finally, the copies of such reports will be provided to project investors, schools that delegated volunteers, the volunteers and their families, and the elderly people that participated in the project.
Hooyman, N. R. and Kiyak, H. A. (2008). Social gerontology. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
Miller, C. (2008). Nursing for wellness in older adults. London: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Social support and self-reported health status of older adults in the United States. (2009). American Journal of Public Health, 99(10), 1872-1878. Web.