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Objective / Description

Volunteers working with seniors (e.g. home visiting service), are trained in the field of exercise promotion. The objective is that volunteers feel safe in doing exercises with older people and motivate them to be physically active. The basic concept is that simple exercises and accompanied walks are possible without the need for specialized exercise instructors or nursing staff.

Learning objectives:
  • Effects of physical activity and exercise on the human body in old age;
  • Learning a simple exercise program that helps to improve strength and balance, performing and guiding of exercises;
  • Feeling safe while supporting simple transfers (e.g. getting up from chairs), walking, and climbing stairs.


  • Developed 4 x 3.5 hour training sessions, created training material, participant documentation and illustrated exercise catalog (exercises derived from Otago Exercise Program);
  • The first 3 sessions were held weekly or fortnightly. The final session took place 3 months after the 3rd one. This allowed the participants time to practice the acquired skills. Thus, issues of concern and uncertainties could be discussed during the last meeting.
  • The training was advertised during the "volunteer academy's" program - a training offer for volunteers, organized periodically by the municipality. Additionally, individual volunteers and voluntary organizations were addressed personally by the department for older people. The target group consisted of volunteers who worked with seniors, and also of interested people who do not do voluntary work. The fee was 80 Euro (voluntary workers: reduced fee of 40 Euro, participation free of charge for volunteers of the department for older people).

Stakeholders and their tasks

  • Project employees: designed and implemented training sessions (physiotherapist/lecturer in field of fall prevention, gerontologist and geriatric specialist)
  • Department for older people / municipality's volunteer academy: provision of premises, advertising, organization of registration


Session design / Session contents

Flyer / Invitation to tender

Example of participant material / Exercise catalog

Expenses / Time

  • Design and preparation of training
  • Implementation of training (with 2 project employees at each date)
  • Premises
  • Copies / Media


In total, 14 registrations, 2 cancellations on short notice.

Experiences / Advice

  • The training's reception was mainly positive. The contents were received as interesting and new, and some practical contents have already been put into action (correct way to get up, doing strength and balance exercises independently and guiding them).
  • To support the practical implementation, the participants asked for regular meetings to exchange information and refresh what they had learned. The desire for a contact person to deal with emerging issues was also suggested.
  • The last meeting was visited by half of the participants. The 3 month time-lag between the 3rd and 4th date may have been too long.
  • An idea that has not yet been implemented is to have the course's participants support the implementation of the Otago-Exercise Program. Patients could be supported by volunteers while they practiced independently. Cognitively restricted people, who are not able to carry out the exercises independently and regularly would be able to participate in the program.
  • A further target group is nursing relatives.
  • In general, training sessions are particularly suitable to create a network for providers/committed people in this area (e.g. volunteers with sports clubs or housing counseling). To promote this networking, teachers of regional origin are preferred as they are able to e.g. recommend specific exercise courses, link actors and mediate between them.