Seniors Share Their Love Of Books

A book club in suburban Adelaide is challenging traditional perceptions of aged care.

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Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 12.02.43 pmA book club in suburban Adelaide is challenging traditional perceptions of aged care.

Seven residents and two staff at Southern Cross Care’s John Paul II aged care facility in Klemzig meet once a month to discuss their latest book choice over a glass of red wine and cheese.

The majority of its members are in their 80s and 90s. Its oldest member is 98 years old.

Politics, religion and sex – no topics are off limits for these avid readers whose book club reads have included The Book Thief, The Kite Runner and The Slap.

The book club was the brainchild of Tanya McIver, a Care Manager at Southern Cross Care (SCC) and is one of a number of book clubs across the aged care provider’s South Australian sites.

“We have a number of residents who are passionate about books but were all quietly reading in their rooms,” Ms McIver said.

“My suggestion to start a book club was met with resounding enthusiasm. We operate like a regular book club, all reading the same book and meeting once a month to review it.

“When we get together we have fabulous conversations and plenty of laughs. We read books we wouldn’t normally choose which encourages some lively debates and the diversity of opinion is fantastic.

“Our members have 697 years between them and it has encouraged them to share their own personal stories. Some of the books have been about war and eras that our residents have lived through. We talk about the book, but also about our own experiences of these times.

“Book club has developed a greater sense of camaraderie and companionship among our residents. We’ve also been on a number of outings including book launches and author meet and greets, and we’re planning to watch the film adaptation of The Book Thief on DVD

“My suggestion to start a book club was met with resounding enthusiasm. We operate like a regular book club, all reading the same book and meeting once a month to review it.

“When we get together we have fabulous conversations and plenty of laughs. We read books we wouldn’t normally choose which encourages some lively debates and the diversity of opinion is fantastic.

“Our members have 697 years between them and it has encouraged them to share their own personal stories. Some of the books have been about war and eras that our residents have lived through. We talk about the book, but also about our own experiences of these times.

“Book club has developed a greater sense of camaraderie and companionship among our residents. We’ve also been on a number of outings including book launches and author meet and greets, and we’re planning to watch the film adaptation of The Book Thief on DVD.

“We call this ‘Enhanced Care’. It’s a collaborative effort that brings together management, lifestyle and care staff to deliver individualised care for our residents.

“Enhanced Carers spend quality time in a one-on-one relationship with residents in a complete shift from traditional task-based care.

“General task-based care remains really important, but it must be underpinned by emotional, social and cultural care.

“If you can achieve all of these things through something as simple as a group of residents reading a book, it can have a huge impact on their lives.”

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