Marie, who joined St Jude’s CVS late last year, started a Story Group for several residents at Eldercare Allambi. The group has a core membership of around 4, other residents move in and out, and new people arrive each week. Marie writes:
“Each week we vary what we do.… Sometimes I read a bit…. but I constantly break that up to encourage the group to talk about what we are reading and it invariably triggers all kinds of stories.
A few times I’ve brought my laptop in with photos [and] we make up [a] whole story ourselves around these photos…. There is an enormous richness and pleasure for all that comes out in these stories, and there is a blending of real life stories as experiences are shared….
I constantly hear things like ‘I haven’t thought of that in many years’ or ‘Gosh, I had forgotten that!’ ‘That’ is often a great and happy memory but it has been buried under all the sadness of lost partners, leaving their homes, dealing with illness and loneliness….
Exercise for the brain! One of the aims with this is to keep everyone in the group participating. This isn’t a group where you come in and sit impassively while someone reads to you. No, this is a group where the bit of reading or a photo are just a jumping-off point for everyone to share their stories, to dig down and remember happy things long-forgotten, to laugh….
A social group has sprung up. We try to keep the topics light and fun (we laugh a lot!) and tap into memories which can then be shared…. To be honest, I really do think this is the biggest achievement as it gives a greater sense of belonging to something and not feeling cast adrift in old age. The participants see each other every day and can be great company for each other so it encourages them to talk about all kinds of things, find their commonalities, share deeper thoughts and provide companionship to each other….