'We use drama workshops to make the rights of the elderly more real'
Erasmus+ and us: Age Action and the Gaiety School of Acting
Tackling ageism and combating elder abuse is central to a novel education and training programme involving the advocacy body, Age Action, the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin and partners in Finland, Italy and Romania.
Supported by Erasmus+, its aim is to raise awareness amongst older people of their rights and give them the confidence to exercise those rights, as well as challenging ageist attitudes through building empathy amongst health and social care professionals.
Aptly named S.T.Age (Socio-drama Tackling Ageism) it delivered 'Respect to Prevent' drama workshops - both for care staff and one for nursing home residents - where different activities were used to make human rights more real.
The Gaiety's experience and skills in addressing social issues through drama were key as those behind the project believe S.T.Age is the first to apply, in a practical way, the theory of 'generational intelligence' - the need to recognise differences between generations and then to build empathy.
The cross-country partnership recognises that elder abuse is a European wide issue, with the potential to have an impact on the lives of a growing number of people.
Gaiety and Age Action jdelivered the workshops jointly in Ireland, using the 'hierarchy of needs' triangle to link older persons' needs to human rights.
Marita O'Brien of Age Action says "participants discuss different types of needs and these are recorded on the triangle. We focus on human rights to privacy, voice, choice and autonomy. We highlight what these rights look like in the socio-drama."
The picture (inset) shows two workshop facilitators in a care setting helping to pass around a ball of wool. This exercise is done with older people to demonstrate how they, as residents, are part of the nursing home community, but come from different places/lives. Each person takes a ball of wool and tells the group something about themselves. They hold the wool and hand it on to someone else.
The S.T.Age project produced a report on the experiences of the more than 200 care workers and residents who participated in 12 workshops in the four countries. The project team has also published an ebook, Elder Abuse Context and Theory, reflecting the background of elder abuse from the perspective of participating countries, as well as a training resource for those involved in care of the elderly.