, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 108-121,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Developing an Older Adult Volunteer Program in a New York Chinese Community: An Evidence-Based Approach

Abstract

This study reports the results of a pilot volunteer project for older Chinese immigrants and documents benefits for both volunteers and caregiver recipients. Using a social marketing approach, the volunteer project was designed as a social model to promote better health among older Chinese immigrants in New York City. The packaging of this health promotion project as a volunteer program was based on a strengths perspective. In the program, 18 older Chinese immigrants were trained to provide support and referral to family caregivers of ill relatives in the Chinese community. At 6 months, outcomes were evaluated for both volunteers and caregivers. The older volunteers perceived benefits associated with volunteering, specifically, a greater sense of well-being and satisfaction with life. In addition, the majority of volunteers felt empowered by training and volunteering (100 %), felt the skills they learned improved communication with their own families (90 %), and reported physical and emotional health benefits (61 %). At the same time, caregivers reported stress reduction following volunteer support. Findings suggest that a volunteer program model may be an effective health promotion intervention for older Chinese immigrants.