Professor Daniel Lai is Chair Professor and Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences in the Hong Kong Baptist University. He was the former Director of Institute of Active Ageing and Head of Department of Applied Social Sciences in The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Before returning to Hong Kong in 2015, he was Professor and Associate Dean (Research & Partnerships) in the Faculty of Social Work of The University of Calgary in Canada. Professor Lai’s research expertise includes health and wellness, aging, culture and immigration, community mental health, and outcome evaluation. Professor Lai serves on the Board of Directors of the American Society on Aging. He is Vice-President of the Hong Kong Association of Gerontology. He also sits on the Training, Research & Development Committee of the New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association.
Combating Intergenerational Ageism: A Case Study of an Infusion Active Ageing Education Program
Dr BAI Xue is Associate Professor at the Department of Applied Social Sciences and Director of Institute of Active Ageing at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She also serves as Programme Leader of the BA programme in Applied Ageing Studies and Service Management. Dr. Bai is an expert in ageing research and her areas of expertise mainly include positive ageing and subjective well-being in later life, family gerontology, social policy and social care for older adults, and evidence-based practice for later-life health promotion. Dr. Bai’s work has been widely published in renowned international journals. Currently, she is an appointed member of Social Welfare Advisory Committee advising the Hong Kong Government on social welfare policy matters.
Anita Lee is a Project Associate of Institute of Active Ageing (IAA), The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, responsible for project management primarily on intergenerational practice-research, strategic planning, funding seeking, growth and performance of the IAA’s brand within the community. She is inspired that the innovative practice-research program activities bring the unexpected benefits to the olds and the youngs. Being Research Assistant for a couples of years within institutions, she has decided to test the theories to further down to earth. The outdated programs and activities in the elderly community centres are no longer accommodating nowadays active agers. In addition, bringing multi-generational element as part of the service, it is not only providing more opportunities of engagement between them, but also assisting to expedite the modification of elderly policy in Hong Kong. After 12 years’ service at an American Banking sector, she returned to college to start her new adventure in life. Anita holds a master degree of Gerontology from The University of Hong Kong in 2014 and a bachelor of science in Psychology from Upper Iowa University followed by Associate Degree in Accounting from The University of Hawaii, Kapiolani College.
Daniel WL Lai, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong
Xue Bai and Anita LF Lee, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong
The ageing population has created new opportunities for business sectors and products beyond care services. It increases the demand for tailor-made goods, services and items, and requires a diverse range of professionals who understand the interests and characteristics of ageing consumers and the skills to respond to the demand for services and products. This highlights the need for collective and multidisciplinary change that could better prepare and equip society to respond to the opportunities and challenges of an ageing population. In other words, the current younger generation constitutes the service providers of the future, both in private and public services. However, outdated stereotypes leave a certain gap between the two generations. Breaking down stereotypes and gaining a new perspective and understanding of the needs of older people could help develop appropriate products and social services to cope with the onset of a super-ageing society. This study develops and validates an Infusion Active Aging Education (IAAE) model based on intergroup contact theory to prepare future professionals who work with older people.
As a pilot study, a 24-month project on Infusion Active Ageing Education (IAAE) was conducted at a university in Hong Kong. The IAAE model incorporates the following elements. (1) Identification of academic champions; (2) Active infusion of aging-related contents into course curricula, with gerontology experts and academic champions co-creating intergenerational and discipline-specific educational activities; (3) Activity implementation; and (4) Evaluation. Between 2018 and 2020, seven departments from the university, comprising 511 students, 94 older people aged 50 or above and eight academic champions, participated in Geron-infusion activities. At the same time, another 130 students received no intervention. Changes in students in the intervention (n=287) and comparison groups (n=63) were assessed using a pre-post questionnaire following a convergent parallel mixed method. We also conducted semi-structured in-depth interviews with 32 students and 40 older adults and obtained written reflections from eight academic champions.
T-tests revealed significant improvements in students’ knowledge of social facts related to aging (Mean pre=1.77, Mean post=2.94, t=-13.84, p<.001), attitudes toward older adults (Mean pre=148.77, Mean post=150.5, t=-2.96, p<. 01), gerontological skills (Mean pre=11.97, Mean post=12.17, t=-4.23, p<.001), and professional interest in working with older adults in the intervention group compared to the comparison group (Mean pre=25.24, Mean post=26.6, t=-4.27, p<.001). Qualitative findings showed that participants reported gaining more knowledge, building more positive attitudes, and having less stereotypes about adults. Feedback from participating academic champions indicated that classroom activities infused with gerontology contributed to teaching strategies and improved student learning outcomes. Importantly, the IAAE programme helped to sensitise them to the challenges of an ageing population and justified the infusion of gerontological knowledge into the formal curriculum.
The IAAE model has the potential to increase the readiness of university students for population ageing. At the same time, it could also help to break down stereotypes on both sides and facilitate the construction of an intergenerational inclusive society. Future research should investigate its long-term implications and design feasible Geron-infusion practices in different contexts.
Delegates attending this session are expected to gain knowledge and skills in adopting innovative approach to facilitate intergenerational interactions in the higher education setting. The research methods adopted could also serve as an example for delegates in assessing and evaluating the effectiveness and impacts of their intergenerational programs.