Conversation Co is heading out to Wellington Shire next weekend to engage with community members about what they think ageing well in place looks like. Wellington Shire is undertaking research to understand their older residents’ experiences of place, programs and services to see where they can offer support to promote healthy living well into the 100s! The project seeks to gain feedback on community strengths and areas for improvement when it comes to providing care planning, access to services, programs for older people, community life and connectivity in rural communities.
As we pack the ute full of props to set up at the Sale shops and the Yarram Ag Show, we’ve made a bit of a checklist for engaging our elders in summer time.
Our Conversation Tips:
- Make sure to set up in a shady spot, bring an umbrella or shade sail. Providing a cooler space in summer is vital to the success of any engagement project. We want to offer an oasis where people can relax and enjoy conversation.
- Provide seating. People will stay to chat if they are comfortable. It’s hard to consider your access to services, reflect on your experiences or answer questions meaningfully if your feet are sore.
- Speak slowly, clearly and a little louder (you don’t need to yell!). Use open and respectful body language. Clarify with the person you’re talking to and check in with them; how does that sit with you? Does that make sense? Would you like me to repeat the question?
- Posters and communications should be simple and clear. Use big font size and simple layouts, creating something too busy visually can put people off.
- When recording data, offer to scribe. This way you can clarify what the person is saying while maintaining their interest and eye contact and not putting too much on their plate.
- Focus on community strengths. Start by looking at what’s working well for people, celebrate it and build on the challenges from there.
- Communicating health and ageing can be a sensitive topic, where some may feel stigma. We can help our participants to feel comfortable by framing the topic positively, being clear about privacy and confidentiality and how the information will be used, relating to their experiences by using anecdotes or examples, and offering a quiet space to conduct a more confidential conversation.
- Get ready for a good yarn! There’s no need to rush the engagement. Our elders have the benefit of years of experience and wisdom. They’ve witnessed changes to their communities and have so much to offer in conversation. Take your time and enjoy the learning experience.