In residential care—from care homes, to assisted living and retirement homes—this is particularly troublesome as loneliness is associated with numerous health risks such as depression.
On September 22nd, the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging in Ontario and the University of British Columbia collaborated to launch a six-month mixed-methods study on a unique intervention targeting loneliness called the Java Mentorship Program. This program was created by the founder of the successful Java Music Club peer support program Kristine Theurer, a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia.
In this 2-hour weekly program residents, volunteers, family members and staff form a mentorship team that meets to reach out to those who are lonely or isolated in their home. The ‘mentors’ include residents with cognitive or physical challenges who receive support from higher functioning residents or volunteers. The first hour of the program consists of a team meeting where all of the mentors have an opportunity to share how their visits went the previous week and also receive short educational sessions. This education is designed to help them learn skills that are useful during the visits, e.g. how to support someone who is grieving.
The team then reviews the needs within the home such as who may be lonely, who is no longer attending programs, or is there someone recently returned from the hospital who needs extra support, etc. In the second hour the mentors pair up (higher functioning residents, volunteers or family members supporting those with special cognitive or physical challenges) and conduct their visits.
Staff at eleven of the Schlegel Village homes received training on September 22, 2015 on how to implement the Java Mentorship Program and the study is now underway.
Stay tuned for updates!