Targeting Socially Isolated Older Adults: A Process Evaluation of the Senior Centre Without Walls Social and Educational Program

Nancy E. G. Newall
Verena H. Menec
Peer-Reviewed Article
December 2015

The causes of social isolation and loneliness in older adults, including their health, income, and place of residence, may impede their ability to participate in community-based social activities. This evaluation examined the impact of Senior Center Without Walls (SCWOW) from the perspective of program participants. SCWOW is a free and easy-to-access social and educational telephone program for home-based older adults.

Participants in the SCWOW evaluation, particularly those who self-identified as being socially isolated, reported high satisfaction with the program. They did not experience any major barriers to participation and shared that participation in SCWOW improved their mental wellbeing, facilitated connections to the community, and increased their knowledge about new topics. Participants valued the accessibility, variety of content, and user-friendly technology, as these factors allowed them to control their level of program participation.

Virtual senior centers have been implemented in locations across multiple countries, and a separate case study reported large reductions in feelings of isolation and improved quality of life among program participants. This SCWOW evaluation provides promising evidence on the use of a telephone-based social and educational program to potentially alleviate social isolation and loneliness in older adults.

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