A focus group on training needs carried out in Germany

The focus group interview as part of the Erasmus+ project “Community Scouts” took place in the small town of Waldems in the Rheingau-Taunus district on 27 February 2024. The aim of the focus group was to gain insights into what kind of training volunteers and professionals need in order to better support older people. The focus group consisted of 5 volunteers and 2 professionals. They worked out motivational points for volunteer work with older people, wishes for cooperation between professionals and volunteers and existing challenges. These include, on the one hand, the challenges that older people face on a daily basis and the resulting needs and, on the other hand, the challenges faced by volunteers. Finally, possible training methods and formats were discussed.

The most frequently cited motivation was the opportunity to further develop their own skills. Other reasons mentioned included the need to help and seeing their own parents getting older and needing support. Regarding the co-operation between volunteers and professionals the wish for opportunities for exchange was discovered. In terms of challenges, older people mainly struggle with accepting help and building trust. This is also a challenge for the volunteers, who also have to deal with the lack of social infrastructure. In addition to social skills, specific knowledge for example about the needs of older people and dementia can be listed as important topics for training volunteers. Important characteristics for these training programmes would include a practical, informal approach in a face-to-face format.

It can be concluded that information about the existing support network in the neighbourhood would be important, as well as training to build trustworthy relationships with clients and to be able to deal with difficult situations.

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