A researcher at Saskatchewan Polytechnic is partnering up with Saskatchewan Senior Centre Without Walls in Moose Jaw to look at the viability of over-the-phone reminiscing therapy with older adults. 

Dr. Michelle Pavloff is director of Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s Centre of Health Research, Innovation and Scholarship. She recently received a $9,989 Align grant from the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation. 

Pavloff’s research project is called Farm Reminiscing. It delivers reminiscing programming through Seniors Centre Without Walls audio-only format over the phone, similar to the old party lines from the past. 

“The potential outcome of this research is having some evidence to support the use of the telephone for engaging older adults in reminiscing therapy and have a way to socially connect people across the province,” said Pavloff. 

Pavloff said they will start collecting data by interviewing participants about their experiences and questions about loneliness and societal connection. The hope is to collect data to get more funding for telephone programs like this and help Seniors Centre Without Walls with more funding opportunities. 

The Farm Reminiscing program began on Jan. 17 and runs every Wednesday until March 6. 

Senior Centre Without Walls Partnered with the Saskatchewan History and Folklore Society to gain access to their archives. They were able to do printouts of their archival photos. Hands-on items are also packaged and sent out to participants. 

It is based on a United Kingdom sports reminiscing model. However, the UK model was in-person, while this project was over the phone. 

“In this particular project that we’re working on with the Farm Reminiscing, all of the people that are in the class have some connection to a farming background. Either they lived on a farm, or they visited their grandparents on a farm,” said Senior Centre Without Walls program manager Ronda Wedhorn. 

Catherine Livingstone is a facilitator who partners with Senior Centre Without Walls. She said the model has been successful so far because it is technology familiar to seniors. 

“It’s not asking our older adults to learn a new technology. It’s not asking them to download Zoom and fiddle with their microphones and fiddle with their cameras. It's a familiar technology that we all know, which is just chatting on the party line,” said Livingstone. 

You can find out more about the Saskatchewan Senior Centre Without Walls programming here.