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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Peer mentoring in residential care : a mixed-methods study Theurer, Kristine A.


A significant number of individuals living in residential care experience loneliness and depression. People engaged in peer mentoring draw benefits from the social and emotional connection; however, this approach is rare within these settings. The objectives of this study were to develop a new model of social citizenship based on peer mentoring, describe the development of a novel peer mentoring program; and collect feasibility data associated with its implementation (e.g., assessment of recruitment and sample; outcome measures and data collection; retention, program adherence and acceptability; and residents’ responses). The Peers Engaging and Empowering their Peers model, which has its foundations in social citizenship, provided the basis for a peer mentoring program in which community volunteers (community mentors) and resident volunteers (resident mentors) formed a supportive team and provided visits and guidance to other residents that were lonely or socially isolated (mentees). For the mixed-methods feasibility study, I enrolled community mentors (n = 65), resident mentors (n = 48) staff facilitators (n = 24) and mentees (n = 74) in 10 sites. Among resident mentors remaining at six months (n = 28), a significant reduction in loneliness scores (p = .014; d = .23) and depression scores (p = .048; d = .30) were noted. Sense of belonging, purpose in life and social identity were unchanged. In-depth interviews with a sample of resident mentors (n = 8) revealed positive perceptions of the program. Most of the feasibility objectives were met; however, low retention rates among resident mentors were noted as well as time and resource challenges. At six months, among the mentees from whom data could be obtained (n = 43), I found a significant reduction in loneliness (p = 0.02; d = .76) and depression (p = 0.02; d = .76), and a 60% increase in the number of monthly programs attended (p = 0.01; d = .37). Interviews with mentees (n = 32) indicated perceptions of the program were also positive. The study findings reveal a potential role that mentorship can play in enhancing social citizenship and lay the groundwork for future research.

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