- Employing/engaging the ‘right person in the first place’ (i.e. a person with the appropriate qualifications and/or training, and good interpersonal skills) is a critical step in ensuring good quality leaders/tutors/coaches/instructors.
- It is beneficial for a senior staff member or volunteer coordinator to have the designated responsibility of supervising, assisting and mentoring less experienced staff/volunteers.
- It is important that staff/volunteers have a good level of knowledge regarding organisational policies relating to participant privacy, confidentiality, disclosure, emergency procedures, etc.
- Having trained and knowledgeable staff/volunteers is also part of an organisation/service/club’s risk management.
Broad exercise knowledge
- If a leader is unsure of the appropriate advice to give, they should seek advice from another relevant staff member or refer the older people to another relevant health/fitness professional.
Monitoring and assessment
- Any documentation relating to participant assessments should be maintained accurately and securely
- Leaders should update their first aid qualification every three years and their CPR certificate every 12 months
- Having a basic understanding of the factors that act as barriers and positive influences on older people’s participation in physical activity will assist a leader to work better with the participants.
- Gaining feedback from participants regarding what might help to motivate them would be a useful conversation to have.
- Seeking a few tips about general motivational techniques would be worthwhile.
- If the program leader/tutor/coach doesn’t have time to have individual discussions with each older person when they commence, if possible, have another appropriate staff member/volunteer/coach undertake this task and provide feedback to the leader/tutor/coach. The discussion with the older person should be two-way – providing and gaining information.
- Encouraging first-time attendees to introduce themselves to the program leader/tutor/coach at the start of the class and allowing some time before and after class for participants to ask questions or speak to the leader.
- Any documentation relating to participant assessments should be maintained accurately and securely.
- In a setting such as a community health service, the follow-up of non-attenders might be able to be undertaken by a staff member with the appropriate skills and experience to respond to an older person who is experiencing personal issues (rather than simply a reluctance to be physically active). This should only be done by someone who is sufficiently skilled to deal with broader issues that may be identified by an older person.
- Making follow-up calls and/or sending messages to those who miss classes is a practical way of showing that they are valued, which is particularly important for socially isolated and disadvantaged participants.
- If a class, program, activity or sport runs for 45 minutes, allow 30 minutes before and after (e.g. the room/venue booking is extended before and after) to provide an opportunity for socialising.
- Following some programs, participants gather for coffee which provides them with the opportunity to socialise with each other.
- As an alternative, organise a social gathering for the participants (e.g. a morning tea) at least once every six months. Such a gathering suggested by the leader/tutor/coach might better include older people who lack confidence in socialising before or after the physical activity.
Inclusive decision making
• If changes are made based on the input of participants, continue to check in with them as to whether the changes are in line with what they anticipated.
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