Strategies & Ideas
Web-based platform of exercise classes for older people
Objective / Description
Collection of exercise classes adequate for older people. These are presented in form of a web-based search engine. This search engine is supposed to be accessible as an information basis for older people themselves, as well as to support relatives, therapists, and doctors etc. to find suitable exercise classes.
The search tool offers the possibility to search for exercise classes by town district or type of activity (e.g. gymnastics, dancing, outdoor activities). Each entry contains information about content and target group, place, time, costs, accessibility, parking, distance to bus stations and contact details for further information.
- Creation of a questionnaire to record relevant information about the exercise classes.
- Approach to the biggest providers of exercise classes for older people (association of sports clubs, German Red Cross, community college); request for support.
- Postal dispatch of questionnaires to all sports clubs (distributed by the department of sports), churches, physiotherapists' offices and further commercial providers (dance academies, fitness centers etc). Additionally, through the senior citizens' office the questionnaire was passed on to seniors' community centers as well as exercise classes that are not bound to any organizations.
- Construction of a web-page in cooperation with a company for web-design, including a search engine, to show the exercise classes. Creation of a tool to register new exercise programs online.
- Data entry by project employee after checking completeness and quality of information.
- Advertising of the web-page at various events and in the media (newsletter, flyer, newspaper article, radio, poster).
- All the providers are contacted periodically, to confirm the information given on the web-page, or to inform about changes.
Stakeholders and their tasks
- Project employees: construction of the questionnaire, organization of dispatch, definition of web-page's contents, technical and graphical demands, data entry, web-page advertisement, data updating.
- Community college, German Red Cross and the biggest sports club: input about the requirements for providers to use the web-page, collection of information concerning the exercise classes within their own organization.
- Web-design company: Construction of web-page and database
- Questionnaires to record exercise classes
- Advertisement material (flyer, posters, newspaper articles)
Expenses / Time
- Construction of web-page / database 11.716 Euro
- Monthly operating costs 149 Euro (usage of Content-Management-Systems and Support)
- About 60 h construction of the questionnaire and dispatch (mid of June - mid of August 2011)
- 200-250 h to build the web-page's concept and design, its realization and data entry and page construction (mid of August - mid of December, 20 weeks with 10-15 h of work each)
- 2 h a week for maintenance and updating
• Website www.schritthalten-reutlingen.de (out of order)
• State June 2013: 330 exercise classes for 112,000 people (fluctuating number of exercise classes , since the community college, as the biggest provider of activity programs, registers courses twice a year and deletes them after the courses are finished)
• On the basis of the web-page's data a brochure was created, featuring exercise classes (Information about the brochure)
Experiences / Advice
Résumé: To estimate how many elderly people actually started to participate in an exercise class as a result of reading the web-page is fairly difficult. Yet, the database, which serves as basis of the web-page, contributes not only to its informational contents, but also to the construction of a network. Thus, registered activity groups could be selectively informed about and involved in specific activities (advanced training, senior sports day, organization of participation in a charity run). Furthermore, it did not require much energy to edit the information for the brochures. Consequently, the web-page served as an important basis for various other actions within the project.
- In average about 160 visitors per month
- Telephone interviews: awareness of the web-page
- In particular with bigger institutions it is advisable to request support for the web-page in form of personal contact. Also for discovering and dealing with their needs. Thus, a special approach for e.g. the community college was created (each community college course was introduced through an excel-list directly into the database at the beginning of the semester. By this, over 200 exercise classes of the community college can be shown by the search engine, without completion of the online questionnaire every single time).
- The majority of the exercise classes aimed at sprightly senior citizens. Only few exercise classes suit people who need e.g. assistance of walking aids. Therefore, in Reutlingen it is much potential left for development. While creating appropriate offers, it is important to keep preconditions of the infrastructure in sight (accessibility of locations, transportation systems etc.).
- According to statistics by the federal office, in 2012 about 32% of older people from the age of 65 use the internet. Thus, the majority of this age group cannot be reached by a web-page. Yet, due to the possibility of an ongoing update process, the web-page was at first the preferred solution. Moreover, the number of pensioners using the internet is expected to grow within the next years. In addition, the web-page's database is a good basis to facilitate the process of editing the data for a brochure.
- Since many trainers of older people's sport groups are of the same age as the participants, here, too, the percentage of internet usage is quite low. There are around 20% of trainers who cannot be reached by email. Taking this into consideration, it is still advisable to chose ways of communication that are not exclusively limited to internet access, as well; even though the effort would be way less (e.g. registering new offers online vs. entry of questionnaires, received by mail, by hand).
- A well trained administrator (plus stand-in) is essential to guarantee the offers' up-to-date nature. His tasks include a regular check of the web-pages contents, as well as being a contact person for the providers.
- All exercise classes for older people were included. Each questionnaire had to be checked by the administrator, who contacted the provider in case of missing or unclear information. Although this is quite time-consuming, it is essential to ensure good data quality as well as the comparability of the various offers.
- An Australian company was chosen for the web-page's and database's implementation. This company had already constructed a web-page of similar content for the state of New South Wales. Their experiences in this field were the reason why we chose the Australian company, even though some German companies had made better offers. The Australian company offered an easy operating Content-Management-System, which allows great flexibility in the structure of the database and the web-page. The higher expenses and the exclusively English communication have to be mentioned as disadvantageous.
- So far, one link from the web-page of the city of Reutlingen leading to the web-page of exercise classes has been realized. Further web-page providers' initiation lead to the set up of additional links (e.g. local council for older people). To publicize the web-page, it is meaningful to aim at further links from other web-pages (e.g. local sport association, sports clubs, seniors' community centers etc).