Michelle Fleming is a Knowledge Broker with the Bruyère Centre for Learning, Research and Innovation (CLRI) in Long-Term Care. She leads the implementation of The Power of Peer Support: Reducing Social Isolation in Residential Care. This project is a collaboration between the Bruyère CLRI, Java Group Programs, Carleton University’s Department of Health Sciences, and Bruyère Continuing Care, funded by the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation, Carleton University and the Government of Ontario through the Bruyère CLRI . Michelle has worked in long-term care homes in Ontario and BC as Manager of Social Services and Quality of Life Manager for the past 12 years. She has a BA in Psychology from York University, a diploma in Social Service Worker (Gerontology) and a certificate in Long-Term Care Manager from the Canadian Healthcare Association. Michelle is a Certified Eden Associate with a passion for improving the quality of life of residents in long-term care.
The Power of Peer Support: Reducing Social Isolation in Residential Care
Kristine Theurer, MA (Gerontology), MTA, PhD(C):
Kristine Theurer is a researcher who pioneered the use of standardized peer support programs to address loneliness and social isolation in senior living. She is a published author of a number of research articles, the most recent of which The Need for a Social Revolution in Residential Care is the most downloaded article in the Journal of Aging Studies. She is currently continuing her research as a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia. Kristine leads training workshops for staff working in health care in Canada and the US and presents regularly at international conferences. She has a Master of Arts in Gerontology and received numerous research awards including grants from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. She serves on the planning committee for the national conference on culture change in Canada, hosted by the Schlegel-University of Waterloo Research Institute for Aging.
Emily Pypker is the Manager of Resident Services at True Davidson Acres Home for the Aged, a City of Toronto long term care home, where she oversees the recreation, rehabilitation, social work, complimentary therapies and volunteers. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Gerontology and a certificate in Therapeutic Recreation.
This workshop will provide an overview of the project The Power of Peer Support: Reducing Social Isolation in Residential Care, and the important connection between meaningful social relationships and personal well-being. The presenters will discuss the prevalence and risk factors of social isolation in seniors (in particular in residential care settings), and the related negative health consequences-among them, loneliness, depression and cognitive decline.
An interactive presentation will explore how peer support groups offer a unique method towards combating these psychosocial and health impacts on residents in long-term care and retirement homes. Current best practices and strategies to create opportunities for residents to unload burdens, learn new coping skills and develop an increased sense of belonging and purpose will be explored. Java Group Programs are the first standardized peer support interventions designed to address critical rates of depression and loneliness in senior living. Java Music Club is a weekly peer support group for residents, including those living with mild to moderate dementia, and Java Memory Care is a vital adaptation for those with moderate to advanced dementia. The programs are based on the altruistic concept that people are happiest when helping one another. Both programs aim to reduce stigma associated with support groups, by reflecting a warm social setting, incorporating coffee and music. This workshop will describe program elements, facilitation strategies and share findings from structured observations and individual interviews with residents and staff.
Through the support of the Center for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI), the Bruyère Centre for Learning, Research and Innovation in Long-Term Care (CLRI), Bruyère Continuing Care, Carleton University’s Health Sciences Department and the Java Group Programs have collaborated to build staff and organizational capacity. Seventy long-term care and retirement home employees are now able to deliver these programs in 35 new homes across Ontario. This workshop will explore the implementation process and knowledge mobilization efforts, including workshops, coaching and webinars.
A health care provider involved in The Power of Peer Support project will share their experiences with the project; how it was received in their organization, impact it has had on residents, and the challenges faced when trying to empower residents to meaningful contribute to others in their community.
Participation will be encouraged throughout the workshop, and participants will engage in facilitated conversation on strategies for cultivating meaningful emotional engagement and enhancing resident-to-resident interactions, including discussion of common obstacles. Presenters will provide practical solutions to barriers and encourage participants to share experiences and strategies.
Participants who attended this workshop will be able to:
- Identify the risks, prevalence and outcomes of social isolation in residential care settings).
- Describe the theoretical foundations of a peer support model and be able to identify at least one outcome of the two peer support programs presented.
- Describe the knowledge mobilization strategies and outcomes across 35 long-term care and retirement homes, and leave with a takeaway strategy on how to implement peer support as a model within a home.