BRAVO (Baycrest Research About Volunteering among Older Adults) is an exciting research project linking volunteering and healthy aging. The study is designed to measure the impact of doing volunteer work on the physical, cognitive, and psychosocial health of people aged 55 and older. BRAVO participants volunteer at Baycrest while being involved in series of tests and interviews in the Rotman Research Unit.
In addition to volunteering at Baycrest for at least 3 hours a week over a 12 month period (flexibility for vacations), BRAVO participants are involved in a number of assessment sessions and interviews in the Research Unit.
There are three assessment sessions (5 hours in total) and a one hour interview prior to the start of volunteering. These sessions and the interview are repeated after 6 months of volunteering and again after 12 months. Each assessment session involves filling out a number of questionnaires, some paper-and- pencil tasks and computerized tests of thinking abilities. You will also be doing some physical activities like walking for six minutes. The interview will explore your motivations for volunteering and your perceptions about your volunteer experience. Between the assessment sessions you will receive monthly telephone calls from a member of the BRAVO team to monitor your experience.
Yes, you can still participate in BRAVO. If you will be away for more than one month, call the Research Unit and Volunteer Services and let them know how long you will be away and when you expect to resume volunteering again. You should also let your supervisor know that you will be away for some time. When you are ready to start volunteering again after some time off, advise your supervisor, Volunteer Services and the Research Unit. The BRAVO clock will begin again once you resume volunteering.
After your 12 months of volunteering and the assessments are complete, your formal involvement in BRAVO will be at an end. BRAVO participants are encouraged to continue to volunteer at Baycrest after they complete the project and in fact, most BRAVO participants do so.
Group results of the BRAVO study are presented at conferences and published in scientific journals. These reports are posted to the BRAVO website as they become available. BRAVO graduates are also invited to our annual celebrations where updates on current results are shared. As a BRAVO participant, you will have the opportunity to receive a complementary, full assessment of your thinking abilities from Dr. Nicole Anderson if she determines that the assessments have raised any issues.
There are over 200 Volunteer Opportunities available at Baycrest. For example, there are positions in the Arts & Crafts program for people interested in arts, placements in Baycrest’s libraries for those interested in literature and wellness, and opportunities for those who are interested in history and artefacts at the museum. Although there is currently an extensive list of volunteering positions available, Baycrest is always exploring new opportunities to better serve volunteers’ interests and clients’ needs. It is a priority to help you find a position that best matches your interests and skills. Please explore Baycrest’s Volunteer Opportunities for more information on specific positions.
Baycrest is committed to helping each volunteer find a position that best matches his or her interests. With over 200 Volunteer Opportunities available and new volunteer positions being created on an ongoing basis, we are confident that there is a volunteer position that can make use of your skills and life experiences. You will also have the opportunity to learn and to develop new skills during your volunteering time. You are encouraged to explore Volunteer Opportunities for more information on some existing positions.
Baycrest recognizes volunteers as vital in achieving the organization’s goals. It fully appreciates the value of its volunteers and strives to create a comfortable and stimulating environment. All Baycrest volunteers enjoy the following:
BRAVO participants also receive compensation for the time spent and public transportation costs involved in attending the BRAVO assessments and interviews. As a BRAVO participant, you will also have the opportunity to receive a complementary, full assessment of your thinking abilities from Dr. Nicole Anderson if she determines that the assessments have raised any issue
In 2008 the Shore Gorman Fund at Baycrest provided funding for the development of the BRAVO model and the assessment tools to be used in the study. In 2009, the Government of Canada then provided a grant through its New Horizons for Seniors Program for an initial study of 30 participants. Then, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research provided four-year funding for an expanded study of 200 BRAVO participants.
BRAVO’s senior scientist, the director of Baycrest Volunteer Services and members of the BRAVO team have spoken to numerous organizations and groups in the community about brain health and healthy aging and the BRAVO project. To arrange for a speaker, contact Syrelle Bernstein at 416-785-2500 ext. 2577.