Java Mentorship facilitator Deb Walton presents a 12-week certificate to Maria Savegnago, who volunteers as a peer mentor at Echo Village. She invited her sister, Milvia Oldale, second from left, as her guest. Surjit Jhaj, director of programming and adult day services, congratulates Maria. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Peer mentoring helps seniors in Port Alberni beat loneliness

Java Mentorship participants celebrate 12 weeks of teamwork

Seniors at Echo Village recently celebrated the 12-week mark in an innovative peer counselling group called Java Mentorship.

The program received government funding several months ago and has been running at Echo Village. Volunteers undergo an educational mini-workshop prior to their mentoring shift, then they go visit seniors in their rooms at the facility.

“It was quite amazing how responsive they were,” volunteer Bob Watson said.

“I found most people opened up to us when they found out who we were,” said volunteer Bev Allan.

Linnea Hills said watching seniors find purpose is an important part of the program for her. “When you go in they’re kind of quiet, but when you leave they’ve opened up a bit.”

The objective of the program is to get people out of isolation and depression “and give them some life and purpose,” said Surjit Jhaj, director of programming and adult day services for both Echo Village and Fir Park Village.

READ: Peer mentoring gets gov’t boost at Fir Park Village

“Loneliness and social isolation are ongoing concerns in our long-term care community. Even though numerous social events are provided in our calendar, there are still vulnerable residents that refuse all invitations to attend programs and spend most of their time in their rooms.”

Lloyd Dool, who is a veteran, and Rob Toye have visited with other veterans at Echo Village. Dool said the veterans appreciate volunteers’ listening to their stories.

Java Mentorship is a researched intervention that was developed and evaluated with seniors, he explained. “We estimate that the program will involve an average of 80 seniors over the period of a year.”

In this mentoring program, volunteers from the community and residents (mentors) form a team that meets weekly. During these meetings they receive education and training on how to be a mentor. Examples include, what to do when they don’t talk much, or how to support someone grieving. They then review who is lonely and socially isolated in their room, e.g., who used to come to programs but has stopped, or who is just back from the hospital.

After the team meetings, which Deb Walton facilitates at Echo Village, they pair up and visit with those identified by the team (visitors).

“We try and match some of the history of each resident to these (volunteers) so they have somthing to talk about,” she said.

They build trusting relationships with those visited and invite them to join them in meaningful recreation programs where they can build close relationships, such as the peer support groups offered, Jhaj noted.

ALSO READ: Alberni Valley organizations with common goal form seniors’ sector

Mervyn Brooks, who attended the Java Mentorship lunch as Toye’s guest, sees the value of such a peer program for seniors. He helped interview more than 250 seniors in Port Alberni a number of years ago to find out what kind of programs and services are needed. This peer mentoring for seniors by seniors program was one result of the survey, he said.

“A common thread was people came from the prairies; people were lonely; they claim they have a lot of visitors, but they don’t.”

Jhaj hopes the program will also start soon at Fir Park Village.

The program is always looking for volunteers. Anyone who is available Tuesday mornings and who would like to mentor seniors can contact Surjit Jhaj at 250-724-6541 (Ext. 253) or by e-mail at sjhaj@acccs.ca.



susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

RELATED: B.C. introduces more efficient waitlists, choices for seniors care homes

Just Posted

Port Alberni receives provincial funding for food hub

Seafood processing hub will be operated by Port Alberni Port Authority

New owner ‘walking away’ from derelict Arrowview Hotel after one week

WorksafeBC issues stop work order; owner Stan Pottie says cost to continue too high

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh to campaign in Port Alberni

Singh joins Courtenay-Alberni candidate for rally to kick off final weekend before election

BC Transit to offer free bus services in Port Alberni on Election Day

Alberni Valley residents will be able to ride the bus for free on Election Day

VIDEO: First all-female spacewalk team makes history

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir did work on International Space Station’s power grid

Zantac, the over-the-counter heartburn drug, pulled in Canada, U.S.

Health Canada also investigates possible carcinogen in some ranitidine drugs

B.C. public safety minister says cannabis edibles not in stores til January

Mike Farnworth says he wants regional issues considered when it comes to licensing

Greta Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta, but doesn’t talk oilsands

Swedish teen was met with some oil and gas industry supporters who came in a truck convoy

Scheer denies spreading ‘misinformation’ in predicting unannounced Liberal taxes

Conservative leader had claimed that a potential NDP-Liberal coalition could lead to a hike in GST

Council asks to limit cruise ship visits to Victoria harbour

Mayor says motion is not meant to curtail current visits or limit local cruise industry expansion

Chilliwack man pleads guilty in crash that killed pregnant woman

Frank Tessman charged under Motor Vehicle Act for accident that killed Kelowna school teacher

Kawhi Leonard, former Toronto Raptor, welcomed back to Vancouver at pre-season game

Fans go wild at pre-season game between L.A. Clippers and Dallas Mavericks at Rogers Arena

Greens and NDP go head to head on West Coast; Scheer takes fight to Bernier

Trudeau turns focus to key ridings outside Toronto after two days in Quebec

Most Read