A new play based on real stories from residential aged care explores issues of elder abuse, dementia and racism, as well as relationships and communication between staff and residents.
How can staff from residential aged care better communicate with each other and those in their care?
That’s a question that Do You Know Me?, a new play commissioned by the Australian Institute for Patient and Family Centred Care, attempts to answer.
“I guess the title, Do you Know Me?, gives it away a bit. This is about everybody in the whole system feeling like they need to be known; that they need to be recognised and cared for who they are,” said Catherine Crock, chief executive officer of AIPFCC.
The play is based on real stories from residential aged care residents and staff. It explores issues of elder abuse, dementia and racism, as well as relationships and communication between staff, health professionals and residents.
Dr Crock said that while the issues of the play may be confronting, they are based in the realities of the sector and provide opportunities to explore how to improve care. After each rendition of the play, there is a discussion lead by a facilitator to expand on the issues covered, as well as a chance to provide feedback.
“We’re not trying to portray the perfect way to look after people in aged care or how to be a perfect worker, but we want to, in a way, open some cans of worms and get people talking about these things,” she said. “That’s when it gets really exciting.”
Feedback from the discussion is later collated by AIPFCC into a report to be supplied to the host organisation. After around six months, AIPFCC will contact the organisation to see how the feedback has been implemented.
Dr Crock said the novelty of the play can help providers to facilitate robust discussions about issues that may not otherwise be talked about openly.
“It’s more effective than a PowerPoint presentation… It’s very live and in your face,” she said. “Having real-life scenarios played out in front of you is a very emotional thing.”
Do You Know Me? was produced with the support of Mercy Health and was written by acclaimed actor and playwright Alan Hopgood.
Dr Crock said that working with Mr Hopgood, who is most well-known for his play on AFL, And The Big Men Fly, had been a privilege.
“He puts a little bit of comedy in but there’s also some pathos and there’s some bits that just make you cry,” she said. “He’s not averse to making the audience squirm and then really have to think hard about the issues.”
Mr Hopgood has previously worked with AIPFCC to produce the play Hear Me, based in the acute-care sector. Since its first performance two years ago, Hear Me has been seen by over 6500 health practitioners and Dr Crock said it has changed practices among staff. Its success, as well as the desire to explore similar issues in aged care, was AIPFCC’s inspiration Do You Know Me?.
Do You Know Me? was first performed late last year and is available to tour around the country. As it requires few stage requirements, the Do You Know Me? can be performed in almost all facilities.
If you are interested in hosting a performance of Do You Know Me?, email email@example.com