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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Barossa supports Seniors through storytelling project

An innovative new project led by The Barossa Council is shining a spotlight on the strengths of older people to support their wellbeing through storytelling.

‘This is Me’ uses storytelling to capture the character strengths of older people developed over their lifetime.

Council’s project lead, Debra Anderson says the project identifies what older people can do, rather than what they can’t.

“This particular approach of identifying character strengths has demonstrated it has a wellbeing impact,” says Debra.

“By identifying the character strengths a person has developed over their whole lifetime, we can then identify what supports they might need to enable them to continue to use those strengths.

“For example if they are particularly linguistic, it could be as simple as providing transport for them to do some public speaking. It ensures older people have every opportunity to enhance their wellbeing.”

Each participant has been matched with a trained volunteer interviewer, who uses conversation to “draw out the narrative” of the storyteller’s life.

“This approach delves a lot deeper into who the person is,” says Debra.

“It’s also about connecting them with their community and providing opportunity for meaningful connection.”

Council has partnered with local aged care service providers, The Barossa Council Public Library, and The Office for Ageing Well, SA Health to deliver the project over a 12-month period, with support from the University of South Australia PhD candidate Vanessa Leane.

“The aged care providers are really excited about this project and how they can embed it in their service delivery,” says Debra.

“It also provides our Council contractors with more information about the clients they are delivering services to. This just opens up more opportunities for intergenerational conversation and connection, and addresses ageism in a very different, and positive, way.”

The project will culminate in a celebration of each individual as a “living library” through written and oral histories.

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