2017 AHC/NCAL Annual Convention & Expo

"It's Given Me a New Life!" - Residents Helping Residents Live Purposeful Lives

Tuesday, October 17
8:00 AM - 9:30 AM
Location: Mandalay Bay Ballroom C
CE: Nurses: 1.5 | NAB: 1.5

Despite the benefits of congregate senior living, many residents experience social isolation and a diminished sense of purpose. Traditional busy activity calendars provide limited opportunities for residents to contribute or to develop meaningful social relationships. Although some residents adapt, many remain isolated, resulting in loneliness and depression. Lack of contribution perpetuates the stereotype associated with residents as passive recipients of care. Those living with dementia face additional discrimination, resulting in a range of unmet needs that lead to feelings of powerlessness and a lack of belonging. Though research indicates that individuals engaged in peer support programs benefit greatly from the exchange of advice and emotional connection, such programs are rare within residential care.

An innovative peer support intervention called the Java Mentorship Program addresses those concerns. In this weekly program, volunteers, family members, and residents form a supportive team, receive education and training, and, in pairs, mentor and visit socially isolated residents. A mixed-methods, pre/post study of the effects of this program was conducted over a six-month period in 10 continuing-care settings in Ontario, Canada. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected from the 225 participants enrolled in the study. Qualitative analysis identified three themes: “Role Transformation to Contributing Citizen” described the mentors’ experiences; “Perceived Experiences of Others” identified increased empathy and peer support among all residents; and “Mentor’s Program Experiences” described the positive impact of team camaraderie and the education provided, and identified barriers. Using video and interactive group learning, presenters will share final research results and review implementation processes and lessons learned. Participants will experience a mentorship team meeting in action and leave with a strategy for implementing peer support within their organization.

Learning Objectives:

Kristine A. Theurer

Founder, President
Java Group Programs

Dr. Kristine Theurer has pioneered the use of standardized peer support and mentoring programs to address loneliness and social isolation among older adults. She is author of ‘It Makes Life Worthwhile!’ Peer Mentoring in Long-Term Care in Aging & Mental Health and The Need for a Social Revolution in Residential Care, the most downloaded article in the Journal of Aging Studies. Dr. Theurer has received numerous research awards including Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. She serves on the planning committee for the Canadian national conference on culture change.


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"It's Given Me a New Life!" - Residents Helping Residents Live Purposeful Lives


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