The 12-hour Supporting Older Adults Remotely (SOAR) certification is designed to promote rapid uptake of digital peer support and is designed specifically to address the needs of the current COVID-19 crisis. This certificate does not assess a person’s ability to use technology such as Zoom, but rather incorporates the latest scientific evidence of digital peer support for older adults.
The SOAR certification fulfills the requirements for the Certified Older Adult Peer Specialist (COAPS) certification in the state of Massachusetts.
The 12-hour “live” SOAR certification includes dyadic training with one day of training for six consecutive weeks for 2 hours each day:
Week 1 – Discovering Digital Peer Support for Older Adults (2 hours)
This discussion introduces how peers can use technology to help support older adults. Topics covered include digital peer support, different types of technologies, and older adults’ access to technology. This discussion also covers how peers can use adult learning theory to best teach older adults how to use technology.
Week 2 – Older Adults & Technology (2 hours)
This discussion focuses on how peers, family and caregivers can all use technology with older adults in ways that empower them by creating a welcoming digital space that takes into consideration the normal effects of aging, such as vision loss, hearing loss, loss of mobility, and memory loss. This discussion also covers how to recognize signs of abuse and neglect digitally and how to address these instances, as well as how to recognize scams directed towards older adults using technology.
Week 3 – Loneliness and Social Isolation in Older Adults (2 hours)
This discussion focuses on why older adults are so vastly different from younger adults and introduces the concept of whole health, which is physical, mental and social health combined. This discussion covers how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected older adults as well as the incredible impact of loneliness and social isolation on health. This discussion closes with ways to address loneliness and social isolation among older adults using digital technologies.
Week 4 – Older Adult Behavioral Health (2 hours)
This discussion provides psycho-education around older adult mental and behavioral health. Topics include depression, suicidality and crisis, dementia, alcohol use, and opioid use in older adults.
Week 5 – Aging Successfully (2 hours)
This discussion introduces the concept of successful aging and explains how all older adults, even those with physical and/or mental conditions, can achieve successful aging in later life. Peer support, life review, and acceptance and commitment therapy are all discussed as ways to help older adults identify what success means to them and then achieve that success. This discussion includes exercises around mindfulness, identifying values, coaching and making a plan of action, challenging negative thoughts, and setting goals.
Week 6 – Pulling it All Together and Certification Celebration (2 hours)
This discussion is designed to reinforce learnings and covers how peers can introduce acceptance and life review to older adults they serve. This session includes a group oral examination and a 40-item test (requires an 80% of higher to pass).