Older people are a highly heterogeneous group therefore, it is essential to be clear from the outset who a programme is designed for. For example, is the focus upon individuals after retirement? Or bereavement? Or is the programme for older people who are on the cusp between well-being and frailty? Alternatively, the target group might be individuals currently living an active older age.
Within our research people who have particularly benefited are individuals who are experiencing increased frailty through a significant life change as a consequence of bereavement or loss of confidence after illness such as stroke. However feedback from facilitators is that even those older people appearing confident and busy can benefit from the programme, trying out new activities or reassessing their priorities.
From our experience of setting up a Lifestyle Matters group we found that recruitment has to be an active process of community engagement. Recruiting people from the same geographical community can help participants in building and establishing friendships and can support groups to continue to meet after the programme has ended.
Methods of recruitment include:
Facilitators of the program make the following suggestions on how to recruit people who would be most likely to benefit from the programme:
Number of participants
Eight to twelve members is considered an appropriate size for a group of this nature. Larger groups can encourage the flow of conversation, there are also more people to contribute and take leadership roles. However, in larger groups it can be harder to tailor the group to so many different personalities and a big group can feel daunting to enter for members. Smaller groups are more intimate although with fewer people discussion may be more difficult to facilitate.