Ms Julian Whitmore1, Professor Catherine Haslam2
1Metro North Hospital and Health Service, Community and Oral Health Directorate, Australia, 2University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia
Background: Social engagement is key in protecting health, but challenging for those transitioning home after intensive rehabilitation. Targeting this issue is a new social group intervention, Groups 4 Health (G4H), that helps people to reconnect and extend their social group-based relationships in ways that support their health. In this feasibility study, we developed and piloted an adaptation of this program — G4H: Going Home — focusing on older adults transitioning home from rehabilitation.
Method: 30 participants (mean age=74.9; F=19, M=12) were recruited, among whom 12 completed all 5 sessions of the program and all measures. Primary measures at three timepoints (pre-G4H, end-G4H, 1-month follow-up) were depression, loneliness and quality of life (QoL). A smaller sample of participants (n=5) also took part in qualitative interviews aimed at gauging their experience of the program.
Results: Analysis of the full sample revealed clinically significant change in depression scores (of >2 points on the scale) between the pre-G4H and follow-up, and the post-G4H and follow-up periods. For the 12 completers, only the difference between post-G4H and follow-up was clinically significant. There was improvement on the remaining variables in both samples — with a small decline in loneliness and small increase in QoL between pre-G4H and follow up timepoints. Qualitative feedback was largely positive with the experiences of sharing and learning with others and realising the value of social groups emerging as common themes.
Discussion: The program had its greatest impact on mental health alongside raising awareness of the importance of others as a resource to support health in a challenging period of transitioning home. These data support investment in testing G4H further, with appropriate controls, to address alternative explanations for improvement and address generalisability. Alongside these data we discuss the program’s wider feasibility and challenges of delivering G4H within an active rehabilitation program.
Juliann Whitmore is an experienced Social Worker (Bachelor of Social Work, 1st class honours) with over 20 years’ clinical experience. Juliann has worked in various roles in her field including child protection, with children with severe behavioural issues and their families, as a parenting specialist in child health and indigenous child health, with patients undergoing rehabilitation and in residential transition care working with clients transitioning home or into Residential Aged Care. Further Juliann has been a supervisor, a team leader and manager of Social Workers and other allied health staff. She has experience in the design, implementation and review of new or revised organisational policies and procedures and models of practice. Juliann has undertaken a project on Domestic and Family Violence and was part of the roll out of the Domestic and Family Violence training in Community and Oral Health, Queensland Health. Juliann is passionate about clinical leadership and the growth of the team members meeting their own goals, those of their clients and the organisation.
In 2018 working for Community and Oral Health, Queensland Health, Juliann was the principal co-investigator in a collaborative research project with the University of Queensland and Ballycara Residential Aged Care Home and Wellness program. This funded research study was to evaluate the effects of Groups 4 Health: Going Home program. This social group intervention focused on helping people to reconnect and build their social connections within their community on transitioning home after a period in hospital believing that social engagement is key in protecting a person’s overall health.