Elderlearn – When frail older people become volunteers – University of Copenhagen

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16 March 2018

Elderlearn – When frail older people become volunteers


This combined development and research project will extend the initiative, Elderlearn, as well as generate knowledge about Elderlearn’s significance for older Danes.

The purpose of Elderlearn is to combat loneliness among frail older people by connecting them with foreigners, who are in the process of learning Danish. The Danish student visits the older volunteer for a conversation in Danish on a weekly basis. Through the conversation, Elderlearn creates meaningful relations, which allow frail older people to help others and be a resource for society through volunteering.

So far, Elderlean’s older volunteers have consisted of nursing home residents. In order to enable more people to participate, the project will extend the initiative to home care recipients.

Along with the extension of Elderlearn, the Copenhagen Center for Health Research in the Humanities (CoRe) will produce knowledge about Elderlearn’s importance for the social lives of older volunteers, both among the existing target group of nursing home residents and among home care recipients. We will investigate what constitutes good social relations between the older volunteers and the students, and how these relations are created. Elderlearn will use this knowledge in the further development of the initiative. Furthermore, the study will illuminate how frail older people’s experiences and competencies can be activated, benefitting themselves and the society which they remain part of.

The research project will be conducted in 2018. It is led by postdoc at CoRe, Aske Juul Lassen, and Nanette B. Fournier, research assistant at CoRe, will be in charge of daily activities. The overall project is funded by The EGV Foundation (Social inclusion of older adults) with an amount of 598.555 DKK – 298.555 DKK of these are allocated for the research project.