It was very rewarding for me ⋯: Senior volunteers' experiences with implementing a reminiscence and creative activity intervention

Academic Article


  • Purpose of the Study: To describe the experience of recruiting, training, and retaining retired senior volunteers (RSVs) as interventionists delivering a successful reminiscence and creative activity intervention to community-dwelling palliative care patients and their caregivers. Design and Methods: A community-based participatory research framework involved Senior Corps RSV programs. Recruitment meetings and feedback groups yielded interested volunteers, who were trained in a 4-hr session using role plays and real-time feedback. Qualitative descriptive analysis identified themes arising from: (a) recruitment/feedback groups with potential RSV interventionists; and (b) individual interviews with RSVs who delivered the intervention. Results: Themes identified within recruitment/feedback groups include questions about intervention process, concerns about patient health, positive perceptions of the intervention, and potential characteristics of successful interventionists. Twelve RSVs achieved 89.8% performance criterion in treatment delivery. Six volunteers worked with at least one family and 100% chose to work with additional families. Salient themes identified from exit interviews included positive and negative aspects of the experience, process recommendations, reactions to the Interventionist Manual, feelings arising during work with patient/caregiver participants, and personal reflections. Volunteers reported a strong desire to recommend the intervention to others as a meaningful volunteer opportunity. Implications: RSVs reported having a positive impact on palliative care dyads and experiencing personal benefit via increased meaning in life. Two issues require further research attention: (a) further translation of this cost-effective mode of treatment delivery for palliative dyads and (b) further characterization of successful RSVs and the long-term impact on their own physical, cognitive, and emotional functioning.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Gerontologist  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 18318865
  • Author List

  • Allen RS; Azuero CB; Csikai EL; Parmelee PA; Shin HJ; Kvale E; Durkin DW; Burgio LD
  • Start Page

  • 357
  • End Page

  • 367
  • Volume

  • 56
  • Issue

  • 2