Clermont Aged Care kindly hosted me for a morning. Two members of staff facilitated a session asking for memories of – and family stories about – wartime. Clermont provides a range of artistic opportunities for its older people, many organised following request from residents. The music therapist is award-winning, and the organisation partners with universities and bodies on research.
The regular writing sessions use reminiscence as a starting point, with the staff then working with the residents to form a series of short verses. This particular piece was to be performed at an ANZAC day event, as a song with musical accompaniment.
For me, these group sessions are also intriguing to see. When I run my own projects, I prefer to work one-to-one initially, then bring everyone together at the end. This reflects my personal style, but I acknowledge that it’s only possible with small groups and when I have ample time and freedom. For the staff at Clermont, who have worked long-term with many of the residents, and play creative, caring, and medical roles simultaneously, the group environment created was lively, engaging and purposeful. A fine achievement!