Supporting Older Adults through Resources and Relationships
Frequently Asked Questions
SOARR stands for Supporting Older Adults through Relationships and Resources. It is a project initiated by the Center for Inclusive Design and Engineering (CIDE) to reduce social isolation and loneliness through the application of technology.
We aim to provide coaching, training, and materials to tech-savvy, older adult 'tech mentors' who will then offer peer-to-peer support to older adults in Colorado.
We hope to help older adults feel more connected and confident in a technology-dependent world.
This program is built as a volunteer training opportunity to help older adults in our communities become more connected.
Although the information provided can be transferred to other areas, it is not designed as a professional development program.
If you are not planning to volunteer as a tech mentor, this training is not for you.
Becoming a Tech Mentor
Participate in training sessions to learn about available resources, mentoring strategies, and accessibility matching.
Seek out older adults in your local community who are in need of technology assistance.
Use training resources provided to teach 3-5 friends and neighbors in your local community to leverage technology to reduce social isolation and access telehealth and/or other services.
Provide feedback on training resources to Project SOARR curriculum developers before and after training(s).
Encourage 2-3 friends/family members you think are tech savvy to also become tech mentors like you.
Willingness to participate in the ongoing support of mentee(s) on a regular basis following initial training (once or twice monthly).
Some Tech Mentors may wish to serve as ‘Champions’; providing more extensive support for mentees.
Provide feedback and ideas on how to improve the program by participating in 2 focus groups for 60 minutes each and completing surveys.
Tech mentor volunteers must be tech-savvy individuals who want to teach older adults to use technology.
Tech mentors should be able to communicate clearly and with empathy.
They should be willing to participate in approximately five hours of training, regularly attend monthly tech mentor meetings, and consistently support older adult mentees.
Tech-savvy describes someone who has used technology for telehealth, social media, email, video-conferencing, shopping, etc. Potential tech mentors should be comfortable navigating a computer, smartphone, or other devices, but do not need to be IT experts.
Complete the general interest form, participate in approximately 4 hours of training, and engage with a state-wide community of tech mentors.
Mentoring offers a rewarding volunteer experience for individuals looking to make a difference in their community. It provides tremendous learning resources and professional development opportunities in customer service, technology, and human services.
Mentees are older adults in your community interested in learning to use technology.
No minimum or maximum skill set is required to become a mentee; tech mentors may help older adults with basic skills (powering on a device, navigating a home screen) to more advanced tasks such as accessing telehealth services or using Zoom.
Although the primary goal of Project SOARR is to train older adults to be tech mentors, students and younger adults are also welcome. Many mentees enjoy working with younger people.
Yes. Tech mentors are volunteers and will not be paid financially. They will receive five hours of training as well as access to monthly mentor gatherings and numerous resources to support them.
Volunteers should expect between 4 and 5 hours of live training. Resources to support this training include handouts, access to self-paced practice scenarios, and ongoing support from CIDE experts and the larger tech mentor community.
The tech mentor training series is accessible both virtually and in-person (by request). All sessions will be held over Zoom, and all the resources will be accessible electronically.
Tech mentors must attend an initial 4-5 hour training.
Following this initial training event, tech mentors are invited to attend a monthly Zoom meeting with tech mentors from across the state.
This meeting aims to answer questions, support one another, and stay up to date on tech trends that may affect older adults in our communities.
While we hope you will participate in the entire training, we understand schedules don’t always align.
If you can’t make it to one or more sessions, you may watch the recordings. Recordings will be made available as soon as possible after the live event.
As a tech mentor, you will be trained on topics such as forming effective mentor/mentee relationships, teaching essential tech skills, and utilizing accessibility tools for older adults with physical or cognitive disabilities.
When initial training is complete, you are invited and encouraged to attend monthly mentor meetings to gain insights from one another.
Training ensures a baseline level of mentoring skills for all mentors and is required.
Yes! SOARR will facilitate resource sharing and support for mentors. Please contact us at CIDE@ucdenver.edu.
Meet with your mentee in person (in a public place) or virtually. Help your mentee set a tech-related goal. Use tech mentor resources and training to help your mentee accomplish their goal. Encourage independence. Connect your mentee with resources if necessary.
The mentor and mentee set meaningful, tech-related goals at the beginning of the mentoring process. These goals will determine the skills to work on.
While mentors are encouraged to start with just one mentee, we ask that you share your skills with at least five older adults.
Many potential tech mentors already know someone who can benefit from tech mentoring. Alternatively, when a mentee reaches out to Project SOARR, we will try to pair them with a mentor who is willing to mentor an older adult they don’t already know.
From time to time, conflict may occur. While one possible outcome is to end the mentoring relationship, SOARR staff are here to support mentors and mentees to resolve differences if possible.
One of the most valuable skills a mentor can teach a mentee is the ability to troubleshoot a problem. Part of the troubleshooting process is reaching out to experts. Calling a help desk together can be an excellent learning opportunity.
Tech mentors will not receive enough training to make expert recommendations regarding assistive technology. If a mentee has an accessibility concern, the mentor should refer the mentee to experts at CIDE or to primary care providers. Mentors should also avoid making recommendations for mentees to make significant purchases.
Yes! We want to hear how things are going! Your insights will help us further develop Project SOARR resources. Please email us at CIDE@ucdenver.edu.
Project SOARR does not require a minimum amount of time to participate as a tech mentor.
You should volunteer when you have time.
The mentoring schedule is set by the mentor and mentee and will vary based on the mentor's time, interest, and availability.
Shorter is often better, but we recommend you work with your mentee to determine the best length of time.
The mentor and mentee set the time and place. Many choose to meet in public places such as restaurants, parks, or libraries. Meetings may take place via phone, video chat, or in person.
We encourage you to limit your availability to limited, pre-arranged times.
We encourage mentors and mentees to work toward specific, measurable goals. When three tech goals have been accomplished, you decide whether to set a new set of goals or end the mentoring relationship. Achieving three tech goals can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
Becoming a Mentee
Email CIDE@UCDENVER.EDU with the subject line "Project SOARR - Mentee Interest" or call the Center for Inclusive Design and Engineering at 303-315-1280.
A mentee will be responsible for setting meaningful, tech-related goals and working with a tech mentor to achieve those goals.
Please talk to them about Project SOARR! We encourage individuals who are interested in the project to contact us.
CIDE's "Supporting Older Adults through Relationships and Resources (SOARR) with Technology" project is made possible by the support of the Daniels Fund
Center for Inclusive Design and Engineering (CIDE)