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Service-Learning and Social Interventions – engaging in meaningful activities with senior residents

COVID-19 needs to be addressed

Due to COVID-19 senior residents of nursing homes in Croatia were isolated for months and were lacking diverse activities and social interaction with people outside the nursing homes.

Country: Croatia

Year: 2020-2021

Institution: Social Work Study Centre, Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb

# of students: 4

Person in charge: Koraljka Modić Stanke


Interaction with beneficiaries: Mixed

Academic Degree: Undergraduate

Discipline(s): Social Work | Psychology | Education

Community Service Area & ODS: Good health and well-being | Reducing Inequalities | Quality Education

Brief description

This particular S-L experience was organised within the elective course Service-Learning and Social Interventions that was piloted in the academic year 2020/21.

The course was introduced to first-year social work students and was organized in partnership with four different organizations (three NGO’s and a nursing home for elderly people) that mutually differed in the type of service they provide and in characteristics of their beneficiaries. Due to the corona pandemic, students attended classes in full-online format instead of face-to-face as it was originally planned; in agreement with community partners – and with respect to epidemiological measures, students who resided close to community partners and who expressed the desire to provide service face-to-face were allowed to do so, while others provided service online.

A total of 5 student teams (consisted of min 4 and max 7 members) conducted 5 S-L projects for/with 4 community partners. Students were required to work in teams, to reflect and critically think about each phase of their S-L experience (by means of work diaries and online group discussions) and to provide a minimum of 25 hours of service (each). During the S-L course, students were applying knowledge and skills attained in courses Introduction to psychology and Interpersonal communication.

S-L experience described here occurred in partnership with nursing home Dom za starije osobe “Park” ( with Jadranka Zaninović (social worker) as a mentor in a partner institution and two teachers of the S-L course – Marijana Majdak (social worker) and Koraljka Modić Stanke (psychologist) – as mentors in the academic institution. Four students that were to engage in a project with this partner first interviewed its representatives in order to detect a need/problem (lack of activities and social isolation), next they proposed the activities within the S-L project designed to help with identified need/problem (walks and conversations with the elderly, games/quizzes, lectures and group discussions on different topics) and carried out the S-L project (some activities online and some face-to-face), and finally, they presented the results of the S-L project to a broader audience. The partner institution evaluated the S-L project as highly successful and students also indicated this S-L experience was highly useful and rewarding. The evaluation process of the entire S-L course demonstrated students’ improvement in social responsibility personal values, participation skills, teamwork and civic efficacy, with the latter improving more in case of face-to-face interaction with the elderly.

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