Informal recruitment sessions

It is important to provide materials that show the benefit of the training to the CCRC and to the individual residents. We found that providing hard copies of information, such as a pamphlet or flyer that describes the program in detail, were effective because residents have something to read, take home with them, show to their relatives, and think about after we spoke to them. Many residents did not want to make an immediate decision about participating; having something that gave an overview of the study along with contact information for study personnel was helpful.

As a follow-up in several communities, we dropped by during a mealtime or an activity and sat with individual residents to chat about the training and the benefits to them individually. We found that establishing these relationships early was effective in both recruiting and retaining residents. This also provided us the opportunity to show our own enthusiasm in providing the training to them. It was important that they viewed us as enthusiastic, positive, and supportive of their ability to be successful in learning how to use technology.

Materials that are provided for recruitment purposes should be specifically geared toward older adults and what is known about their attitudes toward technology. Materials should include pictorial representations of how they can use the computer to stay in touch—for example, a picture of an older adult talking to a grandchild on Skype or FaceTime or "walking" down his or her former street on Google Street View. During the recruitment session, it is helpful to have personally relevant examples of the benefits of computer training, such as setting up a computer with a slideshow of pictures. Being able to see this can be effective in providing the older adults with a tangible representation of the benefits to them of being a technology user. Residents who signed up for our training program were intrigued with the idea of having a way of receiving pictures of family members and especially grandchildren. For an example of recruitment material, see Figure 6.3.

Older adults may believe that technology has no relevance for their lives or that they are too old to take on the challenge of learning something new. The description of the training process must be thorough and clearly presented in both the oral presentation and in the recruitment materials if such beliefs are to be countered.

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