Engaging older people in your community: sight loss, hearing loss, dual sensory loss and experiences of substance misuse
Across the BAB progamme, we want our projects to constantly be reflecting on who they are engaging with and who they are finding it more difficult to reach.
To support this, we held training earlier in 2018 looking at how to better reach and engage older people with sight loss, hearing loss, dual sensory loss or an experience of substance misuse. We recently held a follow-up reflection session with staff and volunteers, recapping this learning and providing the opportunity for one-to-one questions.
This month's Learning Update shares the key learning from these trainings - read the full learning report here.
The first step is to avoid the assumption that everyone engaging with your project has similar life experiences or communication needs. Your own subconscious stereotypes may lead you to make this assumption, for example if you are working with a group of older Muslim women you may not consider the possibility of someone having a history of substance misuse, and therefore may inadvertently make them feel judged or unwelcome.
Similarly, if possible it is best to ask people in advance if they have any access requirements, but be aware that many will be reluctant to tell you or may not think of themselves in this way. Instead of singling them out or asking them to admit in front of everyone that they need you to communicate differently, try asking them one-to-one by phrasing the question in a more practical way, such as whether the font size is ok for them.
Read more tips below or in the full learning report.
We had great feedback from these trainings and hope they are useful in supporting our projects to reach a diverse range of older people. What other groups of older people do you find it hard to reach or engage with? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
BAB Programme Manager Carly Urbanski