National meetings take place 4-5 times per year, and involve a video conference attended by all members of the OA-INVOLVE team. At these meetings big picture aspects of the project are discussed and members provide input on varying topics including project plans and research findings. Local meetings similarly take place 4-5 times per year (sometimes in conjunction with the national meetings), and are attended in person, providing an opportunity for fruitful face-to-face discussion. At these meetings, we discuss aspects of the project at a deeper level and engage in hands on work that contributes to the broader research goals of OA-INVOLVE. Between meetings we all communicate through email or phone.
The local meetings are a cornerstone to OA-INVOLVE’s work. Speaking as a representative from the Guelph site, I have learned that personal connections are an important component of this type of work, and it’s the local meetings that make personal connections possible. When the Guelph group was first formed, we met with interested members in local coffee shops to not only share information about the project, but to also get to know each other. During local meetings we share a meal together and talk about our plans for holidays, our families, exciting events happening in Guelph, and of course OA-INVOLVE!
At one of our recent meetings we asked members what makes a good research project, and one member responded with “people like you, who put in the time to get to know us”. It is centrally important to the work that we are doing. Members feel comfortable providing critical feedback about the project, and providing helpful advice that can be passed on to other AGE-WELL projects. From members of the OARPG we have also learned what makes research involvement meaningful to them, beyond personal connections. Members have conveyed that they want to share their ideas and see the impact of their work. They want clear roles, and to be certain that we have listened to their ideas. We are learning more each time we meet with the OARPG, and these findings will help to inform best practices for the involvement of older adults in aging and technology research.
This month, we attended AGE-WELL’s annual general conference in Winnipeg, and we are pleased that three members of the OARPG were in attendance. The conference was a great learning opportunity for all of us. Stay tuned for upcoming blogs from OARPG members on their experiences at the conference!
Author: Karli Stroud, HQP, University of Guelph