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Background: Thailand is experiencing a growth in its older adult population. Thailand’s Department of Health promotes the development of strategies in communities to care for frail older adults in the home. Because there are important challenges that needed to be addressed in small rural communities, the aim of this project was to develop a village model of care for older adults.
Method: Participatory action research methods consisted of four phases: health needs assessment and situation analysis of the older people, participatory planning and strategies, project implementation, and project evaluation. During the project, faculty and students from three academic disciplines at Mahasarakham University participated with older adults, their caregivers, and village leaders and others in identifying problems, determining the needs of the older population, and agreeing upon solutions. The model involved training of “senior students” to learn basic skills taught by a university Senior Citizens School. The model also incorporated home care visits, exercise and nutrition classes, and the renovation of three houses with planning input from the interdisciplinary collaboratory and village leaders.
Results: Levels of knowledge and satisfaction among the frail older people, caregivers, and students were high. Participation in a health promotion fair was extremely well received.
Discussion: Recommendations are given for housing renovation, integration to cultural restoration, integration to education, and integration with other projects. Other villages would benefit in adopting/adapting the project’s elderly care model for their frail older population. The benefits of service learning among university students is encouraged.
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