Journal of Aging & Mental Health 2020
‘It makes life worthwhile!’ Peer mentoring in long-term care—a feasibility study
Objectives: Loneliness and depression are of increasing concern in long-term care homes made more urgent by viral outbreak isolation protocols. An innovative program called Java Mentorship was developed that engaged community volunteers and resident volunteers (mentors) as a team. The team met weekly, received education, and provided visits and guidance in pairs to socially disengaged residents (mentees). The purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility of conducting a larger study. Method: We conducted a mixed-methods pre-post study to evaluate the program. We collected feasibility data associated with the program implementation, including assessment of the sample and ability to recruit; procedures for data collection; retention, program adherence and acceptability; and residents’ responses including loneliness, depression, purpose in life, social identity and sense of belonging outcomes. We enrolled community mentors (n=65), resident mentors (n=48) staff facilitators (n=24) and mentees (n=74) in 10 Canadian sites. Results: Most feasibility objectives were met, and adherence and acceptability were high. Some resource challenges and low retention rates among resident mentors were noted. We found a 29% reduction in depression scores (p=048; d=30) and 15% reduction in loneliness scores (p=.014; d=.23). Purpose in life, social identity and sense of belonging were unchanged. Interviews among participants indicated high acceptability and positive perceptions of the program. Conclusion: The study findings reveal a potential role for mentorship as a viable approach to reducing loneliness and depression in long-term care settings and lay the groundwork for future research. Read more
Journal of Applied Gerontology 2020
The Impact of Peer Mentoring on Loneliness, Depression, and Social Engagement in Long-Term Care
Loneliness, depression, and social isolation are common among people living in long-term care homes, despite the activities provided. We examined the impact of a new peer mentoring program called Java Mentorship on mentees’ loneliness, depression, and social engagement, and described their perceptions of the visits. We conducted a mixed-methods approach in 10 homes in Ontario, Canada, and enrolled residents as mentees (n = 74). We used quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews to understand their experience.
After 6 months, mentees (n = 43) showed a 30% reduction in depression (p = .02, d = .76), a 12% reduction in loneliness (p = .02, d = .76), and a 60% increase in the number of monthly programs attended (p = .01, d = .37), with small-to-medium effect sizes. The analysis of mentee’s interviews revealed positive perceptions. This program offers an innovative, nonpharmacological alternative to the treatment of loneliness and depression. Read more
Journal of the American Medical Directors Association 2019
Reducing Loneliness and Depression: The Power of Peer Mentoring in Long-term Care
This study was a collaboration between the University of British Columbia and the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging and Schlegel Villages examined the impact of the mentoring on the resident mentors in the Java Mentorship program. Among resident mentors, a significant reduction in loneliness scores (p = .014; d = .23) and depression scores (p = .048; d = .30) were noted along with positive perceptions of the program. One mentor described the personal impact of helping others: “It’s changed my life. It makes me feel like I am needed.” Read more
Aging & Mental Health 2019
A pilot study implementing the JAVA Music Club in residential care: Impact on cognition and psychosocial health
This research was been conducted at the Psychology Department at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The study, published in Aging & Mental Health, investigated the effects of the Java Music Club, an innovative peer support program for senior living, on cognition and psychosocial health among residents using a pre-post mixed-methods approach.
Analyses showed decreased loneliness from and reductions in depressive symptoms and subjective memory complaints. Participants’ qualitative interviews illustrate that the Java Music Club was a positive experience that promoted social engagement. Recreation coordinators reported that the group was unlike currently available group programs and increased socialization between residents. Read more
Carleton University 2019
Assessing the Health Benefits of the Java Music Club at Riverstone Retirement communities
This study was conducted at the Department of Health Sciences at Carelton University. The aim was to assess the psychological and cognitive health benefits of the Java Music Club in 5 Riverstone Retirement Communities in Ottawa, Canada. When compared to a control group, Java Music Club members reported higher levels of happiness throughout the study. When personal identity and identification with other residents were considered as moderators, members reported increased feelings of engagement, greater sense of belonging and trust, increased life satisfaction and positive shift in mental health. Read more
Journal of Aging Studies 2015
The Need for a Social Revolution in Residential Care
Loneliness and depression are serious mental health concerns across the spectrum of residential care, from nursing homes to assisted and retirement living. Psychosocial care provided to residents to address these concerns is typically based on a long-standing tradition of ‘light’ social events, such as games, trips, and social gatherings, planned and implemented by staff. Although these activities provide enjoyment for some, loneliness and depression persist and the lack of resident input perpetuates the stereotype of residents as passive recipients of care. Residents continue to report lack of meaning in their lives, limited opportunities for contribution and frustration with paternalistic communication with staff. Those living with dementia face additional discrimination resulting in a range of unmet needs including lack of autonomy and belonging—both of which are linked with interpersonal violence. Research suggests, however, that programs fostering engagement and peer support provide opportunities for residents to be socially productive and to develop a valued social identity. The purpose of this paper is to offer a re-conceptualization of current practices.We argue that residents represent a largely untapped resource in our attempts to advance the quality of psychosocial care. We propose overturning practices that focus on entertainment and distraction by introducing a new approach that centers on resident contributions and peer support. We offer a model—Resident Engagement and Peer Support (REAP)—for designing interventions that advance residents’ social identity, enhance reciprocal
relationships and increase social productivity. Thismodel has the potential to revolutionize current psychosocial practice by moving from resident care to resident engagement. Read more
National Church Residences
National Church Residences conducted a one-year qualitative evaluation of the Java Music Club in three affordable housing and permanent supportive housing sites using a structured evaluation to explore three perspectives: participant evaluations, structure observations and a staff evaluation. Content analysis revealed that the participants enjoyed the program and felt more socially connected and supported: “[It] fills a part of my day that might otherwise be empty and lonely” and “I feel supported—absolutely. I feel comfortable revealing intimate specific pains and joys.” Results were presented at 2015 LeadingAge Conference in Boston, MA.
Holiday Retirement conducted a mixed methods qualitative evaluation in a pilot examining the impact of Java Music among residents living in 14 Memory Care homes and 7 Continuing Care homes. Residents reported positive benefits with themes generated around increased engagement and friendships, support and empowerment. In their surveys, staff revealed an overall positive experience, that the program was easy to execute, and the training effective and program materials were easy to follow. Results were presented at ALFA 2015 Annual Conference.
Journal of Applied Gerontology 2014
The initial research for the Java Music Club program was carried out through the Department of Gerontology at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada. The study was funded in part by the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
A mixed methods qualitative process evaluation was used, encompassing focus groups, systematic observation of six resident groups, individual resident interviews (N=65) and staff interviews (N=7) in three long-term care homes and an adult day centre. Staff received training and followed a manual which enhanced their ability to facilitate standardized group sessions.
Study participants reported positive benefits and themes generated included spending time together (versus being lonely), getting to know one another better, gaining new respect and understanding for one another, giving and receiving support, unloading their burdens and learning new coping skills. Group observations showed increased active participation during and after the sessions. In their interviews, staff revealed an overall positive experience and described how the unique program structure fostered sharing on a deeper level and how it empowered residents with moderate to severe cognitive impairment.
Participation of those with Cognitive Impairment
Almost all participants in the research study had some form of cognitive impairment and close to half had moderate to severe cognitive impairment. Observations of six individuals 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. There were observed signs of empathy from the more able residents toward those with impairment and this appeared to contribute to the positive engagement of all participants. Read more
Schlegel-University of Waterloo Research Institute for Aging
A one-year follow-up study on the Java Music Club was conducted by the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging with six care homes as research sites and six as controls. A mixed methods evaluation design was used. InterRAI’s self-reported Quality of Life Survey was used as an outcome measure, with analysis revealing significant changes in participants’ ratings on several items. Downward trends on the Depression Rating Scale were also found. Results were presented at the Canadian Culture Change Conference 2014.
University of Alaska Anchorage
The University of Alaska Anchorage conducted an experimental designed, random assignment, assessment of the participation effects of eight (8) clients for 26, one-hour sessions, in an Adult Day Center using the facilitated Java Music Club group program. Assignment to the control and experimental groups were random and drawn from the 55 clients who participate in the day care program. Mental status, level of depression, quality of life, and caregiver burden were measured prior to and following completion of the study. Quality of life was achieved as measured by a process evaluation. The study participants experienced less cognitive decline and depression when compared to the control group. There was no difference in caregiver burden among both groups. The results of this pilot study presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark (2014), and demonstrated the value of the Java Music Club Program in providing the participants with the opportunity of sharing their feelings and providing peer support to one another, adding to their quality of life.
Research – Java Memory Care
Following the implementation of the Java Music Club in homes across Canada and the US, repeated requests were made by the staff facilitators for an adaptation of this program for those living with more advanced dementia.
The Java Memory Care program was created by Dr. Kristine Theurer and was in development over a period of two years with input from staff in four long term care homes in British Columbia, Canada. Although there were anecdotal indications of the benefits of the program, more rigorous empirical evidence was needed to produce credible evidence about the outcomes that it produced with residents living with more advanced cognitive impairment.
Thus, a two-month pilot in four nursing homes was launched in early January of 2015 to further evaluate the program and provide input for revisions. Since then, Carleton University and the Bruyère Research Institute received a $250,000 grant awarded by the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation led by Baycrest Health Sciences. This project was launched as a knowledge mobilization and research partnership examining the impact of both the Java Music Club and Java Memory Care among residents living in 39 homes in Ontario, Canada. Read more
Results for those participating in the Java Memory Care program included reduced agitation over time and consistent positive responses to the music. Overall, the trends seen in the data pointed at positive impacts on well-being over time. One resident stated: “It is nice to be here…it helps with my loneliness and lonely days”. Bruyère staff noted: “[The residents] come out of the program relaxed, calm and happy”.