Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. The program is designed to work all across the long-term care spectrum, long-term care homes, assisted living, retirement homes and adult day services and other community support services. The program is standardized, allowing the staff to easily follow the step-by-step instructions and sustain the program over many years. It provides a cost-effective way to address loneliness and depression. In addition, the program offers a structure that enables higher functioning group participants to seek out and support those are lonely and isolated. This helps to leverage the recreation department’s ability to reach out to more of those in their care, using group participants to help them.

Absolutely. Although it would seem that a peer support group program could not work with those with moderate to severe cognitive impairment, research has shown that using elements of the program in a more concrete way is very successful. Almost all participants in the study had some form of cognitive impairment and close to half had moderate to severe cognitive impairment. Even those with indicators of severe cognitive impairment revealed that they were comfortable in the groups even though their communication skills were limited. They were able to respond to concrete questions, engage with the music and remain attentive to the sharing as it went around the group. Even though some group members wandered in and out during the sessions, they were still able to actively participate.

We have now developed a special version of Java Music Club called Java Memory Care. It’s also called Java Time on materials used in the groups to avoid the stigma that may be attached to “Memory Care”. The program has more training, more techniques for engaging residents that may be non-verbal, and discussion topics that are less abstract and discussion questions that are more direct. There’s more info at Java Memory Care

It’s entirely possible to use Java Music Club with those with advanced dementia, the Java Memory Care program is just an adaptation that provides more training and tools. We recommend using Java Music Club for the general or mixed population and Java Music Club primarily in secure or special care. Some communities purchase Java Memory Care as a second Java program to help relieve scheduling pressure with the Java Music Club materials as the number of groups increases. Please get in touch if you have any questions

This program is called the Java Music Club for two reasons:

  1. The first reason is that the program is fun, includes music, coffee/tea and treats, photography (and more), and is inviting and interesting to attend because of the title. Calling it a therapeutic psychosocial mutual support group program would greatly reduce those that would attend.
  2. The second reason is that the concept of a “club” typically implies a group of people that voluntarily meet on a regular basis for a common purpose. By its very nature a club promotes a sense of belonging and meaning. The Java Music Club is focused on members helping one another and those in their community that are lonely and isolated.

No musical skills or training are needed for staff. The music used for the program comes on CD’s so all that is required is a CD player. All music is provided with the purchase of a licence.

There are three purchase options for the Java programs:

1)      Monthly Lease Option (a way to try out the program with a minimal initial cost)

2)      Payment Plan Option (allows you to pay over a one or two year period according to your budget)

3)      Purchasing Option (a way to simply purchase the complete Java Music Club program materials)

See the price list at

With all three options you receive a license and the complete program materials including the group manual (with 52 researched themes, 52 matching large-size photographs), a facilitator’s guide, a hand-carved Aboriginal talking stick, 8 CD’s of custom-recorded music in lower singable keys, a 9th CD with re-useable forms, an implementation training DVD, kit maintenance and updates, as well ongoing full customer support. Please call us toll free at 1-866-523-2411 or email us at so we can provide you with custom pricing to help with your budget.

The training options are described at Training Options

With the Java Music Club program you receive a license and the complete program materials including step-by-step instructions, the group manual (with 52 researched themes, 52 matching large-size photographs), a detailed facilitator’s guide, a hand-carved Aboriginal talking stick, 8 CD’s of custom-recorded music in lower singable keys, a 9th CD with re-useable forms, an implementation training DVD, kit maintenance and updates, as well ongoing full customer support and a quarterly newsletter.

The facilitator’s guide includes how to prepare and set up for mutual support groups, facilitating the groups step-by-step, how to work with the challenges that come up in groups, how to be a mutual support group facilitator, setting up a Java Music Club Mentorship program in your organization and how to use the Java Music Club to enhance your residents’/clients council. It also includes an introduction on addressing multicultural issues within the groups.

The Java Music Club is different from other traditional recreation programs in that it focused on group members supporting and helping one another. Peers can help one another in a way that no professional can. In a discussion of the challenges that institutionalized residents face, Berman-Rossi (2005) describes the need for peer support groups. He states that the institutions bear the responsibility of providing means to support residents in dealing with institutional stressors as well as ways to empower them to engage with the institutional decision-making. He contends that peer support groups potentially provide such a structure and give residents a means to foster resiliency in a supportive environment of their peers.

The following table is based on a concept presented by the Riessman (1965) called the helper-therapy principle that states that through helping others, not only do group members benefit but so does the group as a whole, creating a group synergy. The helper-therapy principle is similar to the concept of social support from peers but includes group members giving as well as receiving help from one another; the group as whole benefits from this unidirectional supportive structure.  The following table illustrates how mutual support groups are significantly different from typical social activity groups.

Peer Support Groups Typical  Activity Groups
Social homogeneity: Group participants are more influenced by one another than by staff Staff member in role of leader has more influence on group than participants do with each another
Self-determination: Group participants set-up, choose group topics, songs and activities Staff members set-up group structure: Offers the activity and leads the group
Helper therapy: Participants supporting each other reduces feelings of dependency Group members dependent on group leader for support
Group members as ‘prosumers’: Group members give help and also need help—increases opportunities to give help Staff members give help and group participants are receivers of help
Strength versus pathology: Focus is on participant’s inner strength, not disability Being receivers of help from staff reinforces disability
Non-commodification: Help is freely given All help given has a cost (e.g., activity staff wages)
Social support: Supportive actions in the group create a stress buffer and allow for new interpretations of life Focus of groups is typically on ‘outside’ events not internal work
Ethos: Values are discussed and practiced within the group e.g., giving help to one another Focus is on events, not necessarily values held by group members
The self-help solution:  Belief in group members wisdom—not outside help Group members seek expert help for problems, not seen as experts on their own lives
Internality: Residents find support through the group processes Group members seek outside professional or therapeutic help for support

Note.      Based on Riessman’s (1997)10 self-help principles.

References: Berman-Rossi, T. (2005). The group as a source of hope: Institutionalized older persons. In A. Gitterman & L. Shulman (Eds.), Mutual aid groups, vulnerable and resilient populations and the life cycle (pp. 493-535). New York: Columbia University Press.

Riessman, F. (1965). The “Helper therapy” principle. Social Work, 10(2), 27-32.

To implement any of our programs send an email to advising which program you would like to purchase and it will be shipped to you with an electronic invoice and setup tips and suggestions. When the materials are received, watch the training DVD with your staff, invite residents to the first meeting and follow the step-by-step guide. If you have any questions get in touch with us toll free at 1-866-523-2411. We provide full support, free of charge.