Development of an evidence-based telehealth curriculum to increase happiness for older adults in long-term care: A therapeutic recreation concept design




evidence-based practice, older adults, happiness, positive psychology, intergenerational service-learning, COVID-19, telehealth


Older adults are at higher risk for isolation, loneliness, and depression. The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (UWL) Happiness Project: Evidence-Based Curriculum for Older Adults is designed to empower older adults in long-term care to increase happiness in their everyday lives. This curriculum is designed to implement a virtual, intergenerational service-learning in long-term care facilities to provide students applied experience working with older adults. The UWL Happiness Project is a 10-week, evidence-based curriculum grounded in positive psychology and utilizes the PERMA Model, a theory of well-being. It consists of ten 30-minute telehealth meetings with a university student (using a 1:1 format) enrolled in a therapeutic recreation (TR) elective course focusing on older adults. Sessions include a focus area each week related to increasing resident’s overall happiness. Scaffolding is used to build residents’ knowledge about happiness and encourage continuous implementation of the skills learned during as well as after the curriculum is finished, ultimately working toward the resident putting the information and happiness strategies into practice independently. All session protocols, theoretical foundation, and assessments can be found in the curriculum fidelity manual that is available open access on the UWL TR webpage.

Author Biographies

Alyssa Doughty, MS

Life Enhancement Mentor/ Volunteer Coordinator, The Neighbors of Dunn County, Menomonie, Wisconsin

Jenn Taylor, PhD, CTRS

Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La Crosse, Wisconsin

Lori Ann Eldridge, PhD, LRT, CTRS

Assistant Professor, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina


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How to Cite

Doughty, A., Taylor, J., & Eldridge, L. A. (2023). Development of an evidence-based telehealth curriculum to increase happiness for older adults in long-term care: A therapeutic recreation concept design. American Journal of Recreation Therapy, 22(1), 39–47.




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