Topic: The Path to Positive Ageing
Day: Monday 19 October
Time: 3:30pm-4:00pm AEDT
The Aged Care Royal Commission is a timely initiative which will hopefully address areas of concern in relation to Australia’s Age Care services. Its findings will no doubt give attention to facilities, staffing, nutrition, and community engagement. But for far too many residents, it is isolation, the chance to socialize, and a reminder of lives well-lived that may ultimately determine levels of happiness and outlook.
To that end, Princes Court is now host to a team of volunteer writers who strive to capture the lives and times of residents, keen to share their stories. Each writer was assigned a resident on the basis that they would meet weekly and recreate histories. The process resulted in the publication of fifteen life stories in a book titled the ‘Mallee’s Living Histories’.
Aside from positive comments of all involved, PCH staff were quick to recognize that participants seemed happier and more enthused. No doubt, the stories contributed significantly to the knowledge of care staff about those for whom they cared. A key partner in the project was Monash Rural Clinical School who monitored the program through consultations with writers, staff, and residents. The launch of our first book quickly convinced us that the project must continue, and we are now on the cusp of publishing book two with another fifteen ‘living histories’.
Monash Clinical School became so persuaded by the research findings that their syllabus now requires medical students to spend regular time at Princes Court with a view to getting to know people as opposed to patients. Each storyteller is gifted a free bundle of books which they proudly share with family and friends. Thanks to many generous groups and individuals, the project is entirely self-funding.
Media interest in the project has triggered inquiries from other organisations both, in Victoria, and interstate. Our next step is to refine our practice model in the hope of assisting others who might wish to replicate the program, without having to reinvent the wheel.
All too often, we learn about the lives of aged community members when we sadly attend their funerals. These histories not only ‘fill gaps’ they actually help younger generations to know more about their place in the world. International research informs us that ‘children who know more about their family history were best able to handle stress, had a stronger sense of self control over their lives and higher self-esteem’.
Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
The project presenter is to be Vernon Knight. Vernon is a trained social worker who now devotes his retirement to historical writing. He has written, co-authored, or published at least dozen books since stepping down as the Executive Officer of Mallee Family Care. He was awarded membership of the Order of Australia and a Centenary Medal for his community work. He served five years as an Adjunct Professor of La Trobe University.
He is a graduate of the Cranlana Program and the recipient of a Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Community-Business partnerships, the Equity Trustees Award for Long Term Achievement and the Tattersall’s Award for Enterprise and Achievement.