Life Stories Program
Researchers: Dr Xanthe Golenko, Dr Asmita Manccha, Georgina Johnstone, Prof Judy Lowthian
Funding support: Perpetual Trustees
People in the later stages of life can experience feelings of sadness and loneliness, and the transition to needing support from aged care services signifies an important life change. This change can have a major impact on a person’s sense of wellbeing, and family members and loved ones can sometimes feel a sense of guilt or loss.
Storytelling and life story work are narrative, reminiscence approaches to sharing memories and reflecting on past experiences from one’s life. They have been used in aged care settings and shown positive effects on older adults, family members and staff. For older adults, story work can increase social connection, improve mood, and help them to find meaning and purpose in their lives. For family members it can help to reinforce bonds, and for staff it can increase job satisfaction and morale. Story work projects with older people can also be conducted by high school students which provides an opportunity for intergenerational learning and exchange with additional benefits for both young and old.
The Life Stories Program encompasses multiple story work projects that are being rolled out across all Bolton Clarke service streams using a stepped approach:
- Story circles: Loosely based on the indigenous practice of yarning circles; groups of older people, staff, students and volunteers come together to share memories and thoughts across a range of topics.
- Life Story Books: Residents and clients work one-on-one with a biographer (staff, student or volunteer) to create a beautifully printed and bound book containing stories and pictures from their life that can be shared and treasured forever.
- Life Story Posters: Capture the essence of a person’s life which can be easily displayed and shared with staff and loved ones.
- Digital storytelling: This powerful form of media expression enables individuals and communities to share their personal stories while exploring their artistic creativity.
Links to media articles
The Life Stories Program featured in the News