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VAAP - Self Assessment Tool and Resources

Programs - YMCA

Transport options

Helpful tips:
  • Check the availability of any local council community buses to assist with transport.

  • One Victorian local council classified attendance by an older person at a physical activity session as a ‘medical appointment’, thereby qualifying for transport in the council bus.

  • Make older people aware of all transport options available, including encouraging car-pooling.

  • Consider an outreach approach to running your physical activities. This means that you might run your class, program, activity or sport in locations closer to older people, e.g. Senior Citizens’ Clubs, neighbourhood houses, retirement villages, etc.


Acknowledges diversity

Helpful tips:
  • Ensure that staff/volunteers, who may be the first point of contact for older people, are welcoming and supportive (as the first contact is very important).

  • Where required, you may conduct programs and activities that cater for people of specific ethnic groups, e.g. in some areas with large Arabic populations, leisure centres often conduct women-only water aerobics classes to accommodate Muslim women.

  • Consider the readability of any information on websites and pamphlets. It should be in plain English and also allow for people with low English literacy and/or low vision.

  • Contact your local council to obtain a list of local organisations working with a diverse range of older people and make contact with them for advice.

  • Seek the input of older people who are Indigenous, culturally diverse or have a disability to find out how their needs might be best met.



Helpful tips:
  • If the program leader doesn’t have time to have individual discussions with each older person when they commence, if possible, have another appropriate staff member/volunteer undertake this task and provide feedback to the leader. The discussion with the older person should be two-way – providing and gaining information.

  • Inform staff/coaches/volunteers about the strategies outlined in the VAAP ‘Engaging under-represented groups of older adults in organised physical activity’ document.

  • Make sure that all promotional pictures/images of older people are realistic, demonstrate diversity and are relevant to the local context (e.g. don’t have an image showing older people of only white, Anglo-Celtic background in an area of ethnic and cultural diversity).

  • Involve older people themselves in your staff/volunteer training and induction re: working with older people. Some of the older people in your organisation/service/club would be valuable in passing on useful advice from their own and others’ experiences.

  • Seek regular informal and formal feedback from the older people in your organisation/service/club to check that they feel valued, respected and welcomed by all staff.

  • For socially isolated and disadvantaged participants making contact before program commencement, using a buddy system or case support workers, and being welcoming without being overwhelming, can improve their level of comfort during the early period of group attendance.



Helpful tips:
  • Offer casual attendance and fee arrangements (at affordable prices) to provide older people with some flexibility in case they can’t commit to regular attendance (e.g. on a weekly basis).

  • Remember, school holidays can be a busy time for older people as many of them have child-minding responsibilities with grandchildren.

  • Inform staff about the strategies outlined in the VAAP ‘Engaging under-represented groups of older adults in organised physical activity’ document.

  • The provision of encouraging and supportive feedback can be done informally to older people during the class, program, activity or sport (e.g. ‘Well done, John … you have got the “hang of it” now’ or ‘You’re going really well, Susan’).

  • Run regular ‘come and try’ sessions where older people can come and join in (or watch) a class to gain an idea of what it’s like and whether they may enjoy it longer term.

  • Run an outreach ‘come and try’ session at the local community health service or seniors’ club. Some of your current older participants could also be present to act as promotional ‘ambassadors’ for the session.

  • Chat to some of your regular older participants and see if they would be willing to support and encourage new and less confident participants. If they are willing, discuss how this might best work and what might be some of the common concerns of older participants. Some older people might be more suited to the role of buddy or mentor than others.


Social opportunities

Helpful tips:
  • If a class, program, activity or sport runs for 45 minutes, allow 30 minutes before and after (e.g. the room/venue booking is extended before and after) to provide an opportunity for socialising.

  • As an alternative, organise a social gathering for the participants (e.g. a morning tea) at least once every six months. Such a gathering suggested by the leader/tutor/coach/instructor might better include older people who lack confidence in socialising before or after the physical activity.

  • Building social connections is vitally important for improving attendance and ongoing adherence by socially isolated and disadvantaged participants. Helping new members form friendships through opportunities such as pre-activity information sessions or arranging group transport can be beneficial.

Tailored exercise

Helpful tips:
  • Ensure that older people are informed about what is involved in the physical activity (and/or the various options and levels of difficulty) before they commence. This may be done verbally or via written information.

  • Some key points that may be covered in an information sheet for prospective clients include the level of fitness which is required by participants (e.g. able to walk unaided for 15 minutes); cost of the activity (and whether concession prices are available); size of the class/group; class/program times; person to whom inquiries/questions may be addressed; any health contra-indications to participation.

  • Consider the readability of any information on websites and pamphlets. It should be in plain English and also allow for people with low English literacy and/or low vision.

  • Some sports have been modified to suit people of varying abilities; e.g. walking soccer. Further information is available via Vicsport

  • In some settings (such as a community health service), a self-assessment or assessment by a qualified health or fitness professional of an older person’s health status and/or functional capability may be undertaken when they commence a program.

  • Re-assess the abilities and preferences of older people, who are involved over an extended period of time, as their abilities and preferences may change.


Referrals for assistance

Helpful tips:
  • As an organisation or group, prepare a list of local community health, support and information services, which can be available for older people. It is important that the list be regularly updated.

  • Local councils are a good point of contact for local community health, support and information services.


Helpful tips:
  • Ask the participants for their suggestions about how the class, program, activity or sport can be made more enjoyable and fun.

  • Even if the format of the class, program, activity or sport can’t be altered, ensure that the atmosphere in which it is undertaken is one of enjoyment and fun.

  • The approach and attitude of the leader is integral in creating the atmosphere.


Energising and improved functioning

Helpful tips:
  • Relevant professional bodies or associations (e.g. Fitness Australia or Physical Activity Australia) might be a source of advice and expertise, if needed.

  • Physiotherapy, exercise physiology and occupational health staff at the local community health service might be able and willing to provide advice and guidance.

  • If advice around specific chronic health conditions is required, contact peak organisations such as the Heart Foundation; MOVE muscle, bone & joint health; Asthma Foundation, etc.