Information for

Spirituality and Aging Seminar

Spirituality and aging seminar.

The Need for a Spiritual Revolution in Residential Care

November 17, 2017
Presented by Kristine Theurer,
MA (Gerontology), PhD Candidate, University of British Columbia

Many older adults are socially isolated and lonely. This can have serious, even deadly, consequences for their well-being. The Toronto Globe and Mail describes loneliness as a public-health crisis in waiting. Loneliness has an associated stigma, a ‘whiff of failure’ that is difficult to speak about. And so, it remains an open secret— heartbreakingly apparent but often ignored or accepted as the cost of growing old. There is an urgent need for a spiritual revolution in residential care—an overturning of the entrenched long-standing tradition of ‘light’ social events, such as games and social gatherings, planned and implemented by staff. Although these activities provide enjoyment for some, social isolation and loneliness persists.
A spiritual revolution is a move from what we can do to and for residents, to what they can do for one another. Peer support—residents helping each other. How can we better engage community in meeting spiritual needs? How do we continue to have meaningful friendships/relationships into old age, and what structures might support that, in our churches, in retirement communities, and in long term care? Explore these questions in an interactive seminar dedicated to finding a new spiritual approach to overcome social isolation within residential care.

Download the brochure.

Morning session

Attendees will be invited to engage in a fun and interactive review of these issues related to current recreational programming and mental health, as well as the theory and recent literature.

Afternoon session

Participants will be guided through an interactive learning process and peer support group demonstration to explore how residents/volunteers/family/staff can engage in building community through fostering a culture of resident engagement and peer support.

Attendees will leave with practical take away strategies that they can immediately implement in their day-to-day work. These strategies have the potential to revolutionize current psychosocial practices from resident care to resident engagement.


Registration is now closed. 

If you need to make a change to your registration or have questions please call 519-885-0220 x 24264 or

Registration Fee: $50 ($25 for students and seniors)
Personal cheque or credit card accepted.

Kristine Theurer

Kristine Theurer.Kristine Theurer has a Master of Arts in Gerontology and has pioneered the use of standardized peer support programming in residential senior living. She has received numerous research awards including the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, a doctoral grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the University of British Columbia’s Public Scholars Initiative. She presents regularly at conferences and leads trainings for staff working in health care across Canada and the US. She has published several peer-reviewed articles on peer support and is a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia. Kristine is founder of Java Group Programs Inc., an organization dedicated to the development and implementation of peer support programs in all areas of senior living, including dementia care. Current programs include Java Music Club, Java Memory Care and Java Mentorship programs, which have been implemented in over 600 nursing, retirement, assisted living and continuing care communities in Canada and the US. She guided Chartwell in implementing the Java Music Club as their signature spiritual program in over 180 retirement and long term care communities. Kristine also serves on the planning committee for the national conference on culture change in Canada.

The Spiritual Principles of Java Group Programs

The spiritual principles of Java Group Programs are woven into the fabric of these peer support groups and often come about naturally through participation in the program. By spiritual, we mean to include different kinds and degrees of spiritual principles, that is, a spirituality of each participant’s understanding. The principles include helping others (the core principle), love, acceptance and appreciation, understanding and compassion, and peace.


The Spirituality and Aging Program

Spirituality and Aging is a program area of the Research Institute for Aging. Its two-fold purpose is to promote and disseminate research in the field of spirituality and aging that will enhance the well-being of older adults; and to be a resource to students, community clergy, chaplains, and caregivers through university classes, public lectures, and workshops.

Learn more about the Spirituality and Aging Program.
Email to chat about Spirituality and Aging.

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