New set of guidelines launched to train senior learners
11 Aug 2023
The Straits Times
SINGAPORE - The Council for Third Age (C3A), an agency championing active and positive ageing through lifelong learning and volunteerism among seniors, has launched a new framework for training older adult learners.
The Singapore Standard 693 Geragogy Guidelines on Training Senior Learners (SS 693), was unveiled on Friday by Health Minister Ong Ye Kung at Sands Expo and Convention Centre. Geragogy refers to the theory that seniors need a different approach to pick up skills and knowledge effectively.
The new guidelines equip trainers with the knowledge and skills to create engaging and effective learning experiences for senior learners. They also include strategies to understand and tackle learning challenges among seniors, as well as techniques for adapting to their learning characteristics in physical and online environments.
The guidelines were prepared by a working group under Enterprise Singapore and published by the national standards body.
They were based on local and overseas literature, expert gerontological knowledge as well as insights through interviews, surveys and focus group discussions from various stakeholders including trainers and senior learners. References were also made to the geragogy guidelines on training senior learners developed by C3A and the Singapore University of Social Sciences in 2021.
Speaking at the launch, Mr Ong said: “A major social determinant of good health for seniors is the opportunity and agency to learn new things, to continue to exercise their minds, cultivate a spirit of wonder, and feel that they are still growing as a person.”
During the launch, C3A also announced memorandum of understanding (MOU) partnerships with seven organisations – Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital, Loving Heart Multi-Service Centre, RSVP Singapore, Fei Yue Community Services, Gardens by the Bay, Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) and Montfort Care.
The MOUs are expected to facilitate more than 8,500 individuals from such organisations to attend workshops on the geragogy guidelines within the next three years.
Mr Sng Hock Lin, chief at AIC’s Silver Generation Office, said one of its priorities is to equip its staff and volunteers with essential skills that help build stronger rapport with the seniors, and better serve their needs. AIC is tasked with integrating care for Singapore’s ageing population.
“Using the SS 693 as a guide enhances our interactions with seniors, and we are working on progressively aligning over 3,000 of our staff and volunteers to the new guidelines,” he added.
The launch event, which was attended by over 250 people including representatives from C3A’s partner organisations, community-based organisations and government agencies, also hosted a panel discussion on “Singapore Standard: Empowering a Super-Aged Future”.
The panel – moderated by Straits Times correspondent Akshita Nanda – comprised C3A chief executive Soh Swee Ping; Associate Professor Carol Ma, head of gerontology programmes at the Singapore University of Social Sciences; and En Community Services Society executive director Carol Chan.
On the need for guidelines, Ms Soh said that with an ageing population and learning opportunities for seniors well received and accepted by seniors and society, it is important to look at ways to improve their learning experience.
In contrast, there was no pressing need five or six years ago to develop such standards. “At that time, opportunities for senior learning were not rampant. Seniors were telling us, ‘I’m old, what’s there to learn’. But now, seniors are saying ‘I’m very busy, I’m always learning’,” she said.
Fellow panellist Prof Ma said many countries focus on lifelong learning in view of an ageing population. For instance, she noted that there are colleges for seniors in Japan and an elder academy in Hong Kong, but none of them have developed guidelines focused on teaching seniors.
Said Prof Ma: “These standards not only fill the gaps in the learning landscape and identify the needs of seniors, but also help people understand the ageing process better.”
Ms Chan noted that hybrid learning could enable seniors who have mobility challenges to also engage in learning.
“This is not classroom learning, but rather facilitation which also promotes peer support online. Technology is one area we can do more at, learn more about as a trainer and programme developer,” she adds.
The SS 693 costs $36.10, excluding GST, and can be purchased from the Singapore Standards eShop at www.singaporestandardseshop.sg.
Source: The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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