Amy Layman, Director of Community Life at Oak Grove Health Care Center, a Consulate Health Care center in North Carolina, recently implemented the Java Music Club.
The Java Music program is part of the Java Project, which consists of three resident peer support and mentoring programs that form a unique approach to addressing loneliness and social isolation.
After witnessing what she described as ‘the metamorphism’ of several socially isolated residents, she wrote:
“Implementing Java has been perfect timing in helping out residents readjust and build their community again after the year-long pandemic.”
Amy went on to describe a dramatic change.
“One resident went from doing nothing to doing everything. This resident had a hard time adjusting to the facility. When I approached him about joining the Java Music Club, I said we are looking to fill leadership roles. He came to the very first group and at the end I shook hands with him and thanked him for coming.
But he had tears in his eyes, and he thanked me!
He now waits outside the door on the morning of our group at 9:00 am for Java Music Club to begin — and we don’t start until 10:30. He also participates now in many other activities and is often the first one there.
His behaviors have decreased, and he has made new friends. He is pleasant to be around, and people often seek him out to sit near him. It is a metamorphosis.”
What is the Java Project?
As a result of COVID-19, and the imposed regulations of physical distancing to ‘flatten the curve’, the prevalence of social isolation and loneliness in nursing homes has dramatically increased. Enforced physical distancing has amplified the risk of social isolation in this already vulnerable population.
The pandemic has alarming implications for residents in nursing homes. Social isolation and loneliness among older adults are associated with increased falls and stress-related health ailments including hypertension, poor immune function, depression, and cognitive impairment.
The Java Project is the implementation of three structured peer support and mentoring groups called Java Music Club, Java Memory Care and Java Mentorship to address loneliness and isolation. Published research has documented these programs significantly reduce loneliness and isolation by engaging residents in providing support for each other.1
These groups provide residents with an important emotional outlet and support as they experience fear and losses due to the virus.2 Of significant value is the structured outreach to at-risk residents that do not come to programs. Over 1200 senior living organizations have implemented the programs in the USA and Canada.
The Java programs consist of: (1) Java Music Club, a peer support group program; (2) Java Memory Care, peer support designed for people living with moderate-advanced dementia, and; (3) Java Mentorship, a weekly team meeting made up of residents and volunteers who receive training and then visit in pairs with socially isolated residents.
Consulate Health Care and the Java Project
Consulate Health Care is a national leading provider offering services ranging from comprehensive short-term rehabilitation and transitional care to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Consulate Health Care began as a small provider in Cheswick, PA and has grown to become the sixth-largest provider in the nation and the largest in the Sunshine State.
The mission statement of Providing Service with Our Hearts and Hands makes the difference, and Oak Grove Healthcare Center provides dignified, compassionate, and individualized care to each patient.
The pandemic has been a difficult and lonely time for residents and the Java Project is being implemented in 7 Consulate Health Care sites to address this, of which Oak Grove Healthcare is one.
How are residents at Oak Grove Healthcare responding?
When asked how other residents are responding to the Java Music program at Oak Grove, Amy responded:
“Each week we invite a new resident friend to share the experience with us. We have had only 2 people out of 27 invited that have not returned because the program wasn’t for them.
We have had some of the rehabilitation residents come and they loved the program and bragged to their families about it. Two of the people that went home said they would love to come back to visit on a Thursday to come to Java Music Club. We have received 2 resident surveys back this month both with rave reviews.
We have a lady that stays in the group room while I’m assisting the other residents to their rooms, and she listens the Java CDs play through. She was overcome with emotions one time and one of her peers went to her side and comforted her after the session was over! Another resident has asked to borrow the CDs and she listens to them during the week.”
Staff remarked on how residents were willing to open up about their losses and experiences.
Oak Grove will be implementing the Java Memory Care and Java Mentorship programs as part of the Java Project in the coming months.
Amy Layman went on to say participating residents in the Java program are kind to one another and supportive. That Java is great for residents to express themselves and reflect, and to socialize. “I can’t say enough about this wonderful program!”