Java Music Club: Chartwell’s Spiritual Program

As many studies show, active living is a critical component in helping seniors maintain their overall health and well-being. In an effort to help seniors lead physically active and socially engaged lifestyles while living in retirement, Chartwell established its LiveNow programming, which provides residents with opportunities to further build their minds, bodies and spirits. To further boost residents’ spiritual wellness, Chartwell launched the Java Music Club, a program which helps residents share stories and form lasting friendships with others in their retirement community. The research-based wellness program embraces the concepts of mutual support and acceptance, and incorporates the use of music and poetry to help relax residents and encourage them to open up to others.

“I can’t say enough positive things about the program,” says Gina Marshman, the Lifestyle and Program Manager at Chartwell Wynfield, “It’s easily adaptable, the music choices are all relevant and recognizable, and the themes provide an effective strategy for sharing, support, re-enforcement, friendship and celebration.”

Residents rave about Java Music Club
Seniors who have attended the program hold it in high regard, explaining that they enjoy having the opportunity to establish friendships with other residents in their senior community. They continuously attend to share stories and explore their personal histories and emotions.

“I heard about the group through word of mouth when my table mate, Bill Cousins, said how great it was when he attended,” says Ella Masters, resident at Chartwell Muskoka Traditions, “For me, I find comfort and don’t feel embarrassed to share my stories because I realize I’m not alone. The companionship is wonderful.”

Cousins agrees: “Getting to know everyone and having them accept you as you are is so important,” he said. “The idea that everyone is diverse but has something special to offer is at the heart of the program.”

Whether it’s a piece of advice, a friendly nod of acceptance or an on-going outlet of support, the program offers something for everyone, and strong friendships have blossomed since its launch.

Creating the club
Chartwell launched the program in February 2014, building on the altruistic concept that people are happiest when they are helping and listening to one another. On average, anywhere from eight to 12 residents attend a Java Music Club session, as any group larger than that “takes away the personal touch,” noted Laura Forsyth, Director of Life Enrichment. Sessions are held once a week, but many homes have had to offer them more frequently due to the program’s popularity.

Forsyth explained that the program is highly beneficial for residents, as it allows them to see one other from a new perspective.

“I have heard so many amazing stories from our Lifestyle and Program Managers from across Canada. They all give me goosebumps and bring tears to my eyes,” said Forsyth. “In one situation, I saw 10 different residents all walk in on their own. They were quiet and not socializing with each other. By the end of the hour, I witnessed all 10 of these residents coming together – they were hugging and holding each other’s arms as they left the room. One resident was pushing another resident in her wheelchair, and some stayed and continued the conversation over coffee. One short hour allowed them an opportunity to form new friendships.”

Click here to learn about other recreational activities seniors can participate in at Chartwell residences.