Building an unprecedented Intergenerational Legacy of knowledge Translation (BUILT)Determinants of Health
Older adults sharing knowledge about coping mechanisms during times of uncertainty and community disruption
Update: March 2020
The project recruited three young adults, who each underwent a structured training program to become Citizen Scientists. This involved engaging with and learning from our research team (positive role models), and developing leadership skills (increase self-esteem) and basic qualitative research techniques (build skill set). Overall, the small team of young adults conducted 10 interviews (supervised by the research team) to gather information from older adults about their resilience during times of community uncertainty, upheaval, confusion, concern and loss. The young adults performed a simple manual thematic analysis using the qualitative data, and prepared an overview of their findings which they presented to an audience comprising our community-based stakeholders and the older adults who had been interviewed.
The study provided feasibility data regarding a larger-scale roll out, and the research team is poised to begin their in-depth qualitative analyses, including a pre-post intervention analysis of any change in ageism from the older persons’ perspective, which will form the basis of a publication.
The research team also documented the study methodology within a protocol, co-authored with its US-based colleagues and community-based stakeholders, ‘Sharing knowledge across generations: piloting the Australian arm of a US-based Citizen Science project, which has been submitted to BMJ Open journal.
As the mental health impacts of COVID-19 become more apparent, research has shown that many older adults would like to have ways that they can help others, but have difficulty doing so in isolation.
Given that many older adults will have lived through periods of intense difficulty, and experienced negative changes in the security, economic, political, societal or environmental domains, they are by nature an invaluable and untapped resource of ideas, knowledge and wisdom. This wisdom may be applicable for young adults in contemporary society who are learning to cope with the uncertainty, upheaval of society, isolation, loneliness and loss associated with the COVID-19 era.
The ‘Building a Community Legacy Together’ program was developed at Cornell University’s Institute for Translational Research on Ageing and engages older adults to provide invaluable information regarding many topics, and regularly train younger adults to act as Citizen Scientists.
This Project will develop the Australian arm of the ‘Building a Community Legacy Together’ program, the first project of which is to develop an intergenerational body of evidence regarding coping mechanisms during periods of community uncertainty, upheaval, confusion, concern and loss.
This project places older adults at the forefront of the research in a way that is rarely seen in Australia. The established methodology, developed by a group with decades of experience in intergenerational programs, provides older adults with an opportunity to share their experience and wisdom in a meaningful way, promoting a sense of purpose and increased self-esteem.
It engages, with the support of community-based partners, young adults experiencing disadvantage, providing them with a structured opportunity to develop STEMM-related skills (interviewing, research, public speaking skills) and leverage their interest in this field.
This project also provides the young adults experiencing disadvantage with the opportunity to: engage with and learn from researchers (positive role models); develop leadership skills (increase self-esteem); and provide age-appropriate feedback to their peers and social networks in the form of what they learnt from older adults regarding coping in the COVID-19 era.
The ‘Building a Community Legacy Together’ platform is suitable to facilitate the gathering of other pertinent advice from older adults regarding the post-COVID-19 era.