Senior living providers looking to reduce ageism among staff members will be interested in a newly published study that found that a low-cost, one-hour, video-based ageism intervention is able to improve attitudes and behaviors toward older adults among staff members in senior living communities and other long-term service and support settings.

The study, from Virginia Commonwealth University and the LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston, looked at the Video Intervention on Ageism program, or VIA, which was developed by a team of gerontologists. The program uses videos to facilitate “transformative learning” about recognizing ageism and understanding how ageism is communicated. It includes examples of ageism and skills-based examples of how to disrupt ageism and promote elderhood in personal, professional and organizational practice.

“The need to study ageism within LTSS is compounded by evidence that LTSS workers frequently have low qualifications, low wages and low self-esteem, which are associated with higher levels of ageist attitudes and stereotypes,” the authors wrote.

The one-hour video intervention was used in 27 training sessions in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia, with 266 staff members working in 15 different senior living settings, including independent living, assisted living, continuing care retirement communities and adult day centers. Participants represented a variety of staffing levels, including leadership, direct care, nursing and programming staff.

Study participants attended a training session and provided reflection guides, and they participated in email surveys three months after the ageism training session.

Ageism involves negative and positive stereotypes, prejudice and / or discrimination against older adults and has a profound influence on the their health and well-being. It also can act as a barrier to both quality of life and quality of care delivery within the continuum of residential care settings, the researchers said. 

The study showed the low-cost, brief video intervention was effective in changing attitudes and behaviors regarding older adults, including “talking louder or slower to an older person.” The authors noted that future interventions should describe specific ways to help staff members identify ways to alter their thinking, attitudes and behaviors.

Results were published in the journal Gerontology and Geriatrics Education.