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«Trainer's Teaching Guide for Mentors Made possible in part through the generous support of: Version: 5.0 | Summer 2014 © Cyber-SeniorsTM Version: ...»

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Teaching Guide

for Mentors

Made possible in part through the generous support of:

Version: 5.0 | Summer 2014 © Cyber-SeniorsTM

Version: 4.0 | Fall 2013 © Cyber-SeniorsTM 1


The idea for the Cyber-Seniors Program came from a high school

project that was launched by two sisters, Macaulee (16) and Kascha

Cassaday (18) in 2009.

The sisters had witnessed first hand how the Internet had transformed their grandparents’ lives. After learning some basic skills, their grandparents were able to communicate with them several times a week via the Internet, despite the fact that they lived in different cities and had very busy lives.

Inspired by this realization, the sisters started the Cyber-Seniors Program to help other seniors get online.

They began by recruiting several of their friends to visit a local retirement home twice a week to teach interested seniors how to use the Internet. The program really caught on and before they knew it the seniors were able to send and receive emails, talk to and see their friends and family using Skype, and even “friend” their grandchildren on Facebook. The highlight of the Program was the creation of the CyberSeniors Corner (youtube.com/cyberseniorscorner), a YouTube Channel where student-senior teams posted short videos featuring the senior sharing their wisdom and/or humour.

Saffron Cassaday, a filmmaker and Macaulee and Kascha’s older sister, began filming some of the early Cyber-Senior sessions and decided to make a documentary film about these remarkable Cyber-Seniors.

Over the next ten months, Saffron and her film crew captured over 120 ho

–  –  –

Working With Senior Citizens If you walked into a room and wanted to listen to the radio, you would first have to plug it in to a power source. Similarly, when you walk into a room to communicate with a senior citizen the first thing you have to do is “plug in,” that is, make a connection with them. Once you’ve made that connection, you can then begin to communicate necessary information and instructions.

It is important to understand that age-related decline in physical abilities can make communication more challenging, and some illnesses make communication more difficult.

A hearing loss makes you harder to understand, so be patient and speak more clearly. Be sure you face the person when you talk, and avoid talking while you eat. Vision loss makes it harder for an elderly person to recognize you, so keep this in mind.

Some elderly people experience changes in speaking ability, and their voices become weaker, or harder to understand. Be patient when listening, and be aware of when the elderly person gets tired and wants the visit to end.

Some age-related memory loss is normal as people grow older, although people experience different degrees of memory loss.

Most often, short-term memory is affected, making it harder for an elderly person to remember recent events. Keep this in mind, and practice patience.

Be aware that when someone lives to be very old, it’s impossible not to experience some feelings of significant loss. The deaths of relatives and friends, losing the ability to work and be independent, changes in health and finances, and being unable to make simple decisions can all affect an elderly person’s self-esteem. These losses can create sadness, and grieving. Common responses to grieving are depression, social withdrawal, and irritability, so be aware of these behaviors and do not take it personally.

Because an elderly person’s life experience may be very different from yours, it’s important to let the person express those thoughts and feelings, and to respect them even if you disagree.

Below is a list of tips to help you when teaching senior citizens.

Allow extra time. Studies have shown that older people desire more information from people who are interacting with 1.

them then younger individuals. Because of their increased need for information, and their likelihood to communicate poorly, to be nervous and to lack focus, older individuals require additional time. Plan for it, and do not appear rushed or uninterested. The senior citizen will sense it and shut down, making effective communication nearly impossible.

Avoid distractions. The seniors you are working with will want to feel that you have spent quality time with them and 2.

that they are important. When possible, reduce the amount of visual and auditory distractions, such as other people, background noise, and keep your cell phone on vibrate or silent.

Sit face to face. Some older individuals have vision and hearing loss, and reading your lips may be crucial for them to 3.

receive the information correctly. Sitting in front of them may also reduce distractions. This simple act sends the message that what you have to say to them, and what they have to say to you, is important.

Maintain eye contact. Eye contact is one of the most direct and powerful forms of nonverbal communication. It tells 4.

people that you are interested in them and they can trust you. Maintaining eye contact creates a more positive, comfortable atmosphere that will result in more effective learning.

Listen. Good communication depends on good listening, so be conscious of whether you are really listening to what the 5.

senior is telling you. Many of the problems associated with an inability to learn new skills can be reduced or eliminated simply by taking time to listen to what the senior has to say.

Speak slowly, clearly and loudly. The rate at which an older person learns is often much slower than that of a 6.

younger person. Therefore, the rate at which you provide information can greatly affect how much they can take in, learn and commit to memory. Don’t rush through your instructions to them. Speak clearly and loudly enough for them to hear you, but do not shout.

Use short, simple words and sentences. Simplifying information and speaking in a manner that can be easily 7.

–  –  –

understood is one of the best ways to ensure that the senior citizen can follow your instructions. Do not use jargon or technical terms that are difficult for them to understand. In addition, do not assume that they will understand even basic computer terminology. Instead, make sure you use words that are “familiar and comfortable” to them.

Stick to one topic at a time. Information overload can confuse senior citizens. To avoid confusion, use the instruction 8.

outline provided in this Teaching Guide. This will allow you to explain things in a more comprehensible series of steps.

Simplify and write down your instructions. When giving seniors instructions, avoid making them overly complicated 9.

or confusing. Instead, write down your instructions using the templates provided in this manual. Writing is a more permanent form of communication than speaking and provides the opportunity to later review what you have said in a less stressful environment.

–  –  –

The Cyber-Seniors Program depends on youth volunteers for its success. By signing up for this Program you are expected to fully commit and to take your responsibilities seriously. The following policies must be adhered to at all times.

Cancellation and Punctuality We understand that everyone has days in which they fall ill and are not able to meet their obligations. We also know that there are times when personal issues or obligations are unavoidable. However, absenteeism is disruptive to the learning process and therefore threatens the success of the Cyber-Seniors Program. We therefore highly discourage the cancellation of any scheduled training sessions, unless absolutely necessary. If you must cancel a session please try to give the Participant as much notice as possible.

It goes without saying that punctuality is imperative. However, if you know you are going to be late, make sure to let the Participant know.

Using Computers for Personal Use At all times you must refrain from using a Participant’s computer for you own personal use during a training session. This includes checking personal email and surfing the net for your own interest. In addition, if you are providing training within a Retirement or Nursing Home on computers provided by the Home, you must abide by the policies set by the Home, which may include avoiding certain websites.

Dress Code/Name Tags

We expect all volunteers who are participating in the Cyber-Seniors Program to dress according to their school’s dress code guidelines. Clothing should be clean and tidy, and halter-tops and tops showing midriff are to be avoided. Also please refrain from wearing clothing that displays offensive wording or pictures.

If provided with a name tag by a Retirement or Nursing Home, it must be worn at all times during training.

Privacy and Confidentiality Personal information about the Participant must never be released to any one on the Internet without their informed consent.

Informed consent means the Participant must fully understand the implications and consequences of sharing the information.

For the protection of our volunteers and Participants we strongly discourage providing training in online banking. If a Participant is interested in learning how to carry out online banking they should be encouraged to contact their bank or a close family member for assistance.

Infection Control

Prevention is the first step in avoiding the spread of infections and illness. Hand washing and frequent use of hand sanitizer is crucial to this process. If you are volunteering at a Retirement or Nursing Home and the Home is in Outbreak (ie. some residents have been diagnosed with the flu or any other infectious disease), you will be notified and most likely will be asked not to enter the Home until Outbreak is declared over.

–  –  –

Safety In order to prevent injury to yourself and Participants in the Program, refrain from lifting or assisting a Senior in a transfer. If you are asked, notify the staff at the Home or a family member.

If a Participant is in a wheelchair always let them know if you are going to move them. Check that clothing and arms are tucked in. Walk slowly! Some people use footrests, while others prefer not to because they use their feet for mobility. Always put the brakes on a wheelchair before leaving them.

If a Participant confides in you about an unreported medical problem, encourage him/her to report the problem to the staff at the Home or their family. You may also want to let the staff and family know that the Participant has confided in you about an unreported medical problem (without giving them details) so they can speak to them about it.

Reporting Incidents or Accidents An incident is any event, outside of normal activity, that could be or is disruptive or harmful to volunteers, Home staff or Participants. If you are witness to any incident, you are required to report the incident immediately to the staff at the Home or family members. If you witness an accident or fall, call for help, stay with the person and reassure them. Never assist someone up from the floor, as they need to be assessed for injuries first by trained personnel.

Gifts/Tips Gifts from Participants of the Program must not be accepted. If a gift is offered, it is important to convey gratitude and appreciation for the offering, but that your interest in helping them is not dependent upon receipt of gifts.

Professional Relationship It is not appropriate to discuss detailed personal or financial information with Participants in the program.

Harassment Any abusive conduct, comment, gesture or contact, whether physical, verbal or emotional, discriminatory and/or sexual in nature, that might reasonably be expected to cause offence, embarrassment or humiliation to any Participant, volunteer, or staff at a Home can not be tolerated. It is the responsibility of any individual witnessing such behaviour to report it to the management staff at the Home or to Cyber-Seniors.

Language Vulgar language and curse words are not permitted at anytime. Slang should also be avoided.

Smoking Smoking is not permitted during volunteer hours.

Use of the Telephone Use of a Participant’s telephone is strictly prohibited, unless it is an emergency. Retirement and Nursing Homes generally have policies on the use of telephones for personal use and it is important to adhere to these policies.

–  –  –

Let’s Get Started The goal of the Cyber-Seniors Program is to enable a Senior Citizen (Participant) to be able to use a computer independently, or with minimal assistance, to carry out functions such as email, Google searches, Skype, Facebook and any other applications which are of interest to them. Once they are able to independently carry out the functions that are important to them, training may stop. However, most Participant’s will require some continued support, and our hope is that Trainers will provide this ongoing support, as needed.

Scheduling Lessons

On average, most Participants will require at least 16 hours of training. We suggest scheduling at least 2 one-hour sessions over a period of 8 weeks. Of course all Trainers and Participants will have different scheduling preferences and availability.

The important thing is to create a schedule that allows you and the Participant to meet the goals of the Program.

The Lessons

Although this guide is broken into 6 lessons this does not mean that each lesson will be completed during one training session. Depending on the Participant’s prior knowledge and ability to absorb the information being taught at each session, it may take several sessions to complete one lesson. This is no reflection of the Participant’s level of intelligence or the Trainer’s ability to teach. We all have different learning styles and abilities, and each Participant should be allowed to move through the lessons at their own pace.

Regardless of the level of computing knowledge the Participant reports to have, it is important to review each lesson with them.

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