‘HealthStart’: a co-designed volunteer-led health coaching programme for older adults

The ‘HealthStart  project is a partnership between the Singapore General hospital and the local NGO TRIGEN. It is a community-based programme aimed to improve the health and well-being of older people in Singapore by improving their health literacy and lifestyle via the adoption of digital technology.

Young volunteers are recruited and trained to make monthly home visits to older people and serve as health and digital coaches under the supervision of volunteer healthcare professionals.

The benefits are multi-fold:

  • promote health among seniors,
  • foster digital inclusion,
  • support intergenerational exchanges and prevent ageism.

The interesting component of this project is that everyone is a volunteer. Starting with healthcare professionals that take on the roles of team leaders and mentors providing guidance to non-healthcare volunteers and young people. Their responsibilities include organising and leading monthly home visits, overseeing patient care, and addressing any arising issues. On the other hand, the non-healthcare volunteers (e.g. students, older people…) receive not only the support of the workforce as well an initial training (namely on ageism!) and continuous supervision. The older people with chronic diseases can count on the support of the volunteers to have engaging conversations but also to adopt healthier lifestyles by setting health goals and interacting with helpful technology.

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