Canadian Journal on Aging 2022 Social isolation and loneliness in long-term care...
Welcome to Java Group Programs
Loneliness and social isolation are epidemic, affecting so many older adults. Research tells us that enhancing emotional connections is key to solving the problem. While that sounds easy—just go and talk to your neighbour—it isn’t. Typical social programming addresses loneliness with entertainment and distraction. Java Group Programs bring people together with an innovative approach that ends loneliness and spreads happiness. Through structured peer support and peer mentoring, Java participants uplift others and are uplifted themselves.
From Dr. Kristine Theurer
“My room is at the end of the world”. That’s what a resident said to me—it broke my heart. Light social events, from games to entertainment, are the typical fare offered to combat loneliness. Despite best efforts of staff, studies report that more residents than ever are struggling with chronic loneliness.
Surely, we can do better—but how? After working for over 20 years in senior living these were thoughts I had. I was a big believer in the power of peer support groups, having attended many myself to deal with grief after a suicide in our family. Peer support groups are small intimate gatherings where participants come together to share experiences and these groups helped me profoundly. So I decided to implement a peer support group where I worked. And that is how Java started.
I then decided to return to school to complete an MA in Gerontology at Simon Fraser University and then a PhD at the University of British Columbia. Launched in 2011, Java is growing and is in over 1600 communities across Canada and the US.
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What People Are Saying
Just wanted to share that I had my [Java Music] club today and felt so excited because one of my residents who is such a recluse has been coming , but each time I go to his room and each time getting easier but today…he came with no escort and contributed so much and sang his heart out and it was so rewarding, it’s an awesome program!!”
“The Java Music Club really has made such a difference. They do feel empowered. The satisfactions scores related to this are amazing. Simply put, it works.”
“To join in this group is to forget my worries. It eases your problems. It takes the loneliness away.”
“The results were phenomenal. Both residents and staff witnessed immediate, positive behavioral changes and an increased sense of community among the participants.”
“So what’s been wonderful about the Java Mentorship program, is that we’ve taken our own resident volunteers—[they] become the mentors,….they are this army that go out and do this fantastic work. What I really like about it is that it provides the structure and the framework to deal with loneliness.”
“This program has been very fulfilling—both for myself and the people I have visited. Participating in the Mentorship Team meetings before the visits is very helpful because sometime you just get stuck for something to say or do.”
“It’s really neat seeing people build friendships—mentors seem to really enjoy it—we have a dedicated group that show up every week.”
“Truly some of the best thinking to hit senior living/LTC in decades.”
“I wanted you to know that Java Time [Java Memory Care] is going really well at Evergreen. We are getting great feedback from staff and the residents are enjoying having space to share their emotions. Staff are saying that residents who sometimes struggle to complete thoughts are words are more verbal and coherent.
There is a noticeable difference in the residents demeanour post Java- more settled, more engaging socially more smiling and at ease. We have added these programs at 2:45 and 2:30 just before sundowning and it seems to be working out really well!
I have had staff who are new and didn’t do the formal training but read my program protocol and followed your guidelines and also found really great results in terms of engagement. Thanks again for all of your support!”
“Java Memory Care is fabulous! I am working with residents with very advanced dementia with help from two higher functioning residents—it works wonderfully for all.”
“We have the Java Memory Care program here at Kinsmen and we love it. Thank you for introducing this new variation of the Java Music Club.”