Santa Clara University

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Senior Center Assessment Project

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Left to right: Tan Trieu, Peter Chu, Patrick Driscoll, Jessica Carter (City of Santa Clara, Senior Citizens Center)

Tan Trieu, a Computer Engineering student, has designed a database application that will be used by the City of Santa Clara Parks and Recreation Department to assess how well Senior Centers have incorporated specific key elements into their programs and services. The assessment is based on five factors identified in the MacArthur Foundation’s Study of Aging in America as playing a key role in the maintenance of health and well-being as people age. These factors are: Diet & Nutrition, Health, Involvement with People, Physical Activity, and Mental Activity.

Last fall, Trieu enrolled in Prof. JoAnne Holliday’s COEN 178 course (Introduction to Database Systems). Students were asked to design a user interface and database application implemented on Oracle that could be used for the Senior Center Assessment project. Along with Peter Chu, Trieu chose to continue the project into winter quarter as an independent study and will soon install the completed application on the city’s servers.

Lead investigator for the project is Dr. Patrick Driscoll, Senior Advisory Commissioner for the City of Santa Clara. In the pilot study, 13 Senior Centers in Santa Clara County were evaluated. Dr. Patti Simone, Director of Santa Clara University’s gerontology department, worked with Dr. Driscoll to develop the Profile Chart, which compares programs and services provided at one center with others in the research group.

The next phase of the project will involve a comparison of Senior Centers in 5 western states. In April, an article will be published in the California Recreation Society Magazine to solicit participation in the Senior Center Assessment program.

Senior Centers wishing to participate will complete a questionnaire regarding the services and programs they offer. City of Santa Clara staff will enter information from the questionnaire into the database. The application will generate a report assessing the Center’s programs and services and will include recommendations to enable senior centers to optimize their program and service offerings. If there is significant participation in this phase of the project, Dr. Driscoll would like to expand the program nationwide.