Connecting Postgraduate Students and Older Adults in the Community to Support Wellbeing: A Service-Learning Module During COVID-19 and Beyond
The aim of this practice report is to discuss the implementation of a service-learning module developed to support the psychological wellbeing of postgraduate students and older adults in the community, with a view to fostering their connection and tackling loneliness in both populations. The module, ‘Self-Identity, Intergenerational and Intercultural Learning’ (SIIL), was offered to students enrolled in the Mental Health Studies Master of Science at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London. The module included lectures on the scientific underpinnings of wellbeing and ageism positionally within intercultural and intergenerational contexts. Students were introduced to qualitative research with a focus on autoethnography. They engaged with older adults through phone conversations and undertook wellbeing-promoting experiential exercises and self-reflection. The interactions provided students the opportunity to learn at an academic and personal level, while allowing older adults to share their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. These lessons learnt will inform future practice. Future directions for further developments of this methodology in other disciplines are also discussed in this practice report.