Podcast, Season 1 -

Ilsa Hampton – Holistic and Meaningful Aged Care

Ilsa Hampton is the CEO of Meaningful Ageing Australia, a not for profit focused on improving the quality of holistic and spiritual care in aged care environments. Though the word spiritual carries different connotations for each person, Ilsa qualifies that spirituality is about anything that brings meaning to a person’s life, whether that’s meaningful activities, places or the idea that there is something greater than us as individual people.
Meaningful Ageing Australia have a broad range of different initiatives for older adults, care workers and care providers to assist people how to have important but often overlooked conversations, and empower them to better direct their care in a way that suits them. And in this conversation, Ilsa goes into a lot of depth about these programs.
She also describes how conversations about meaning and spirituality can help care workers feel more passionate and recognised in their work, leading to better outcomes for care recipients as well as workers and providers.

Ash de Neef: Thank you so much Ilsa for joining us today on the podcast.

Ilsa Hampton: Thanks for having me.

Ash de Neef: Can we start with a bit about yourself and about Meaningful Ageing?

Ilsa Hampton: Sure. So Meaningful Ageing Australia is a membership-based not-for-profit organisation and our members are organisations and groups that are supporting older people. So primarily aged care services, community, residential aged care services, a lot of them have retirement living as well.
Our main work is evidence informed practical resources to help organisations with holistic care. So we’re all about meaning, purpose and connectedness in people’s lives, and then connection with some specific domains that we know are really important for building resilience, reducing anxiety, and so on.
And that’s connection with self, connection with others connection with creativity, connection with nature and connection with some sense of something bigger than ourselves or beyond ourselves. So for some people that has a name, it might be called God, for some people the universe. But for other people, it’s just some sense of something out there, not everyone has that feeling, but quite a lot of people do.
So all of that can be bundled up into a word that not everyone is comfortable with, which is the word spirituality. So where the peak body for spiritual care and ageing.
People are often uncomfortable with the idea of spirituality because of the stories that they’re carrying, and that’s quite understandable. So it might be because they’ve had their own experiences with institutionalised religion that has not treated them well. It may be because they’ve heard and seen some stories about, I guess, the worst side of what can happen with institutionalised religion.
On the other hand, there are people who are very comfortable with religion and faith, and that is part of spirituality for those people.
So we’ve got quite an interesting situation in our society and, and this all applies within the context of aged care as well, where we’ve got this really important part of life that helps people thrive and flourish and really gets them out of bed in the morning. But we’re not necessarily able to talk about it because of the varying perspectives, views and experiences on the concepts.
Like once we can get past, I guess the S word, we find that most people really do respond and connect and it makes sense. They know how, how it fits into their life and they can start to imagine how it might be relevant for older people as well.

Ash de Neef: Mm. Do you mainly focus on things within this umbrella of spirituality or are there other things as well that you’re tackling.

Ilsa Hampton: Spirituality is incredibly broad. So that is the lens through which we operate everything, but that then leads us into a very wide range of interests and conversations. So for example, if you think about responding to, and trying to understand and support someone spirituality, that means you have to really understand and respond to them as a person first, not as a disease first or not as a task first.
That then also feeds into are we valuing the aged care workforce, for example, and so we might do work that’s trying to reflect and enhance the feelings of significance that the aged care workforce might have.
And also to pay attention, to be in deep relationship that takes time.So that will then lead us into discussions about funding and actually service models and how it is that staff are given permission and equipped to be present and pay attention to older people in the way that that everybody deserves.
And then we’ve got other questions like, well, why is the system like this?
What’s the role of age-ism and all that. So then we might start to try to speak back to ageism and the role that it plays in society. So you can see how it’s, it’s like a kind of web, that really does touch on almost everything.

Ash de Neef: Can we talk about some of the programs that you have? What is the actual work that Meaningful Ageing is doing?

Ilsa Hampton: Yeah. Sure. So, and I, I should have said as well, we also do do advocacy work, which you would have heard, I guess that last answer picks up on a lot of that. So in terms of the practical resources, which is most of what we do, we’ve got quite a wide range of resources that service providers can use.
And then we also have a new [resource] called See Me Know Me, which has materials specifically for older people and the people who love them designed to help them connect with themselves and each other and people in their immediate networks.
In terms of that aged care resources, we have things like programs like inter-generational reminiscence, which is a really beautiful program guide to being able to set up and run, something that you could do with a secondary school. Where the students come in, they’re matched with an older person, they meet regularly for few months and really get to know each other.
And then at the end of that time, the students create a memento of the older person’s life, and it’s presented back to them in a ritual. Their family are invited, other people are invited in.
So there’s a whole lot of things around that, that we know are fantastic for what we would call spiritual well-being in terms of that older person being given the chance to act as an elder as having a role as an older wiser person. We’re dealing with ageism in that as well, because the students don’t even know they’re carrying a whole lot of preconceived ideas about older people.
So they’re coming in and actually meeting real live older people. And, in the evaluations, that’s been really clear when this program’s been run, that the students really appreciate that opportunity and they teach them for older people, a few things as well, along the way.
It starts to create pathways as well, potentially some of those younger people start to think about maybe working in aged care, and we need people who are really passionate and connected who wants to work in aged care. And the chance for legacy, the chance to reflect this always comes up really strongly as an important need as people age.
And so this program, it tends to that. And that’s just one example, you know, we could be here if a couple of hours.
But I’ll just give a couple of other, just really quick examples.
There’s something called ConnecTo, which is a specific tool that’s drawing on those domains. I mentioned that’s come through the published literature.
But actually an Australian researcher, Julie Fletcher, did a PhD really looking at this question around, “how do we really understand someone’s spirituality in a way that staff can relate to it as well?” Because we know that S word can be such a problem.
And so, as part of her PhD, she developed a really nice approach called ConnecTo, and we then made an arrangement with her to adapt, to work for use in aged care services.
So we’ve got a really lovely training program and tool that ideally is a conversation that is had with older people really, really early on in their engagement with aged care services.
My best case scenario is that it’s before anything else almost, which is quite radical because most people want to do like all of the Centerlink forms and all of the enduring power of attorney and all of the clinical and the meds and whatever else.
Which is all really important and does have to be done, but my point is that, you know, aged care is fundamentally about people.
It’s about the older person, and it’s about the people that are supporting them. So for that to work, we need people to feel recognised, and for people to feel recognised, we have to talk with them about what matters to them, not in a procedural way, but actually genuinely engaging to understand.
And the ConnecTo tool picks up on those important domains of connectedness -so self, others, creativity, and so on.
And so by having that, doesn’t have to be an extensive conversation, but just a gentle early conversation. Like imagine that you’re so anxious. If you’re engaging with aged care, it means that something hasn’t been going the way that you wanted it to.
Nobody kind of makes a plan for their life that says, okay, at 75 or 85, I’m going to, engage with aged care services. People are doing everything they can to avoid engagement with aged care services. So if you’re at that point, it means you’ve got some vulnerability, you’ve got some particular needs, you need some support and that’s okay.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but it does create inner tensions and anxieties for people. So to take that person who’s feeling potentially quite anxious and confronted, because it can also mean that the realities of ageing are really smacking you in the face. If your body’s not doing what you had hoped that it would do.
So you’ve got all this vulnerability and you nervous, how they going to treat me. Cause of course the reputation of aged care unfortunately, is quite poor in the broader community in terms of what we see, you know, through the media.
Now we know that there’s a lot of wonderful and beautiful things that happened in aged care. And that’s what we’re trying to bring to light, but also multiply. So you’ve got this person who’s feeling a bit nervous and a bit anxious and maybe a little bit confused as we all are when we’re engaging within a system. Imagine then they’ll staff members coming in and they put aside the 50 million forms and they look the person in the eyes and they’re saying, “Hi, my name’s Bess, I’m here to understand a bit more about what matters to you before we do anything else. And then we’ll go on to these other things. So I’m really interested in your important connections, would you like to have that conversation with me?”
And if the person says yes, say, “Okay. Bob, can you just have a think about nature? Is there something in nature that’s really important for you?”
And he might go, “Oh, well, I don’t know.” I just say, “well, it might be the mountains or river or the ocean or your pot plants or something in the garden.”
“Oh, actually it’s my roses. I just love spending time with my roses.”
“Okay, fantastic. Thank you so much for telling me that I’ll make sure that we, make a note of that and that informed some of what we do with you. How connected are you feeling with your roses at the moment?”
“I can’t really get outside anymore because of, you know, dah, dah, dah…”
And so you can see straight away it’s, it’s called technically it’s a spiritual screening conversation.
So what we’re looking for are important connections and how strong are they at the moment?
And if that was the frame through which all those other conversations, like, you can just imagine someone, all that nervousness and all that anxiety, it would drop, it does drop. We know it drops if people get the chance to really connect.
And actually just pure science, which I’m no science at us, but oxytocin’s released when we’ve got a real connection happening oxytocin…so it’s actually just, there’s some chemistry as well.
So these are the kinds of things that we want happening in aged care everywhere all the time. That we’re starting with the person we’re connecting, we’re understanding and we’re responding.

Ash de Neef: Fantastic. It sounds like very strongly through all these projects you’re working on is the sense of self and that being crucial to understand for each individual who’s receiving care.
You also mentioned the See Me Know Me program, which I do want to come back to. But you’ve touched on supporting aged care workers to have these conversations.
From what you see, how is this happening in the industry at the moment? Is it something that is easy to happen that people are being supported to have conversations about spirituality and importance?
Or is this still a challenge that needs to be addressed?

Ilsa Hampton: So the aged care workforce is mainly personal care workers.
Okay. So there’s a range of different roles of course in aged care, but the 70% in residential care and 84% in community aged care are personal care workers.
So there’s a significant challenge around how well they are equipped and supported to engage with people meaningfully.
But the other thing that’s important to say is that our expectations on how different staff are engaging with older people does vary depending on their role. So someone in a personal care worker role wouldn’t have the background and wouldn’t be expected to have the kind of conversation that I was just giving the example of with Bess and Bob I think they were called.
So that would be someone in a customer service or so-called not a fan of customer, but that’s the language that’s sort of around them, and engagement, you know, resident engagement role or an assessment role or a care manager type role. So there are people that usually have a tertiary qualification, often public health related.
So they have some broader background that they’re bringing that they can then be trained, without too much difficulty, if they can get past the kind of spirituality, religion, what’s it all about.
With a bit of investment, they can be trained up to have those conversations. But you know, it’s no secret that there’s no slack in the system.
So the actual time that’s needed, it’s not funded. So holistic support is not funded. And so there are organisations that are doing amazing work and they’re doing it despite the system, not because of it.
Now, in terms of the majority workforce and your question around are people supported to have these kinds of conversations.
So with personal carers organisations that are investing in relationship centered care and consist – Have you heard of consistent assignment Ashley?

Ash de Neef: I have not no.

Ilsa Hampton: Yeah. So, yeah. There’s a really important move that’s been going on for a little while, but hopefully it’ll get a bit more traction.
It’s a little bit controversial so not everybody I guess, is for it, including some of our members, currently we’ve got about 110 organisations that we’re working with, so they’re not all kind of have one mind on everything – so it’s important to acknowledge that.
But the national guidelines for spiritual care and aged care, which we were closely involved within and promote as the benchmark, they do name consistent assignment as one of the things that organisations should be doing, if they really want to enable holistic support, the way that we’re talking about it.
So consistent assignment is where a small group of personal carers are working with one older person. So the rostering is completely changed so that that older person only has to regularly see one small group of carers. Rather than having an army of people coming in and out of their life and in particular around intimate care so showering and things like that.
So a really good benchmark, and if anyone is working in aged care or looking for an aged care service is to do an audit on how many different individuals are showering someone over a four or six week period.
And I think are really good way to get real about dealing with that data is to ask yourself, if you needed support, showering, how many different people would you be comfortable having, helping you?

Ash de Neef: Yeah.

Ilsa Hampton: Cause I feel really nervous about the idea of one stranger. Now, the point is that with consistent assignment, they change that they’re not strangers anymore because you build a genuine relationship.
So that model straightaway gives that personal carer, a chance to have a genuine conversation and to recognise someone for who they are and for the personal carer to be recognised, because that’s also, you know, as I said about the workforce, like.
You’re right It’s about self, but it is all about relationship.
It’s about those webs of relationship that we all need to survive and actually thrive in life to love and be loved and to be of service. So for the personal carer to go from, someone who’s. thinks that what they need to do is a series of tasks like showers or feeds, or, you know, like that’s, that’s one of the worst things that can happen because it de-humanises obviously the older person, but it also dehumanises the personal carer.
So it consistent assignment completely changes that dynamic. So it puts it into a relational framework. Recently I was talking to someone who’s a leader in this area and she told me this amazing story, which to me was a… well, I don’t know what I’m looking for, but it’s, it’s a model. Like it, it’s a vision.
Like this is a true story, but it’s a vision for, this is what should be happening in aged care around Australia and the world.
And what happened was, it was in a context where they’re using consistent assignment and the older person died and the family member said to the organisation, let me ring the carer, they will be so upset. I want to be the one to tell them.

Ash de Neef: Wow.

Ilsa Hampton: Yeah. Okay. So for that web to be that bonded and, and it’s deep, profound respect, you know, an honoring of everyone.
People say “Oh, we don’t want them to get attached” I’m like “are you kidding me?”
But what’s the alternative and, you know, and the alternative is unfortunately what’s happening in some places with completely detached, where people are just reduced to their symptoms or their functional kind of task-y things that, that they need support with.
And all of that functional stuff and symptoms, it’s all important, Absolutely it’s important, but the system should not be led by that.
It has to be led by the person and those other things are, the reason why they needing support or whatever else, but if it’s not viewed through the lens of relationship and what we really know about what really animates that person from a very deep level, it will always be too thin.
And you know, why have we got something like 50% of people in residential care depressed?

Ash de Neef: Yeah.

Ilsa Hampton: Do we really not know the answer to that and the answer, you know, the response is not medication and it’s not…
I really value really good psychological support services, but that the answer is not trucking psychologists.
Yes people with serious mental health concerns, et cetera, they need access to psychologists. But we can’t… We have to deal with these systemic issues.
So there’s the models and what they’re being set up for, and then there’s also of course their own capability, which is something that we’re really passionate about is the personal carers are given the opportunity to actually develop the skills that they need for the actual work.
Not just for, they do need some technical knowledge around, manual handling or food safety, Absolutely they need that, but that’s not the heart of the work. And the current qualification, which they’re not even required to have is not, you know, it’s thin.
What they need is a formation process because what they’re being asked to do is so profound. Like the work of a personal care, most of us wouldn’t be able to do it, it’s complex, it’s physically demanding.
Just think about any relationships. You know, people, people are wonderful and people are really difficult as well. So to get any relationship in your own life, really functioning well, just think about what you need to bring to that. What you’re expecting of the other person. There’s a whole kind of dance that goes on and personal carers generally aren’t given the chance to really reflect and, and get some sense of depth. Even in terms of what they’ve got to draw on themselves day to day, as well as then how to process what’s happening in that space between them and the older person.
So one innovation that we’ve been working on to help actually try to speak into this space – we’ve got a few little resources that organisations can use the personal carers. But we’ve invested a lot of energy over the last few years in developing a digital solution because personal carers also often working in multiple locations.
Although I know we’ve covered that, this has been serious attempts to keep that to one on location and we’ll see what happens in the future.
But also community care where they’re going house to house. So they’re in community care they may never be brought together as a group. So even in terms of that, again, professional development and team, because the funding just isn’t there, some organisations find a way to do it, which is brilliant and congratulations to them.
But generally they’re quite dispersed, they’re part-time often they’re from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. And there’s many, many thousands of people in these roles. So we could see this huge challenge for aged care services, to be able to reach the majority of the workforce with some of these really important key messages.
So we’ve worked as I said for a few years on a project, which is just coming to fruition this year, it’s called Meet Akira. So it looks and feels like an app, but it’s actually a standalone website, but you just access it through a unique link and it takes a personal carer on a journey. So it’s a, it’s a kind of interactive learning journey but it’s not didactic or book learning.
It’s the story of a carer who is a personal carer and it’s showing her going about her day and a few things don’t go all that well because she’s not attending to the relational space. She’s busy focused on the other aspect of her job, which is the task side.
And then in the story, she gets some feedback. So she starts to feel the effects of kind of missing the boat with people. And actually the third client is just a really cranky person, which does happen in fact. So we’ve, co-designed this with personal carers and they’re going, “Oh my gosh, like, this is exactly in my life.”
And so she starts to become personally affected by this sort of slightly mishaps, but the more there are the worse, it goes for the older person and for the carer. And then she talks to a colleague who invites her and she’s like, “what can I do? I’ve just had such a bad day” and her colleagues saying, “well, you know, sometimes I think about how my clients might’ve felt if I’ve had a bad day?”
Which is a really important piece of reflective practice, which personal cares may never have been taught.
So in the story we see her pause and actually, she’s having a cup of tea and just sitting at home on her couch and just reflecting on “well how do the clients feel?”. And we see her get feedback from the clients and she starts to get in touch with what might’ve been happening for them when she missed the relational opportunities and pressed on with the tasks.
And then we see her the next day go back to the same clients and she’s given a chance to connect with the heart.
So she is a little interactive thing where you’re clicking on her heart and on their heart. And you know, that there’s this just this slight pause where she can adjust her approach and move into the relational space rather than going over the top of the person.
Which is something – I mean, it’s a life skill that we all need and it’s part of emotional intelligence, but it’s absolutely core to spiritual care and spiritual support.
So this is what spiritual support looks like within that role. It’s about paying attention, and being available and having a real relationship.
Personal carers, aren’t expected to have a long exploration with people about the meaning of life or all of that or do spiritual assessments, or even be experts in world religion or whatever it is. During the story we see her pause and find a way to connect and she gets feedback from them. When she’s like, “well, how did that go?” And they reaffirm the things that were positive for them and what she did on the second day.
And then there’s some kind of further learning, but the Meet Akira the process of development, we also had some academics and some service providers involved and some older people. The engagement with the personal carers around this little learning journey it was just blew me away, how positive they were about it and how helpful I found it.
And I think that they just, they’re thirsty to learn,. We’ve done some other projects with personal carers and I think they’re actually, there’s a lot of untapped kind of passion and energy. Most of them are in this work because they really love older people and they want to make a difference.
So, yeah that’s just another example.

Ash de Neef: Yeah. Fantastic. That’s Meet Akira is it?

Ilsa Hampton: Meet Akira yeah.

Ash de Neef: Where can people access that?

Ilsa Hampton: So it will be launched at our AGM on the 16th of November, and then it’ll be available through our website.

Ash de Neef: Awesome. One of the things that keeps coming up a lot in the conversations we’re having for this podcast is the idea of things that we know to be very valuable and intrinsic to a healthy, happy life outside of aged care, are things that are often missing inside of aged care.
And a lot of what you were saying then seemed to speak to this idea of just reconnecting with what is being lost in the process and trying to redesign the process so that things like relationship can become front and center and a perspective on what is important to each individual. It’s fascinating for me to have multiple conversations and have these same themes come up and so thank you for bringing that up. Can we talk about See Me Know Me now?

Ilsa Hampton: Yeah. See Me Know Me was launched last year. It’s been a big, big eighteen months. I’m like, “was it only last year?”
And the idea behind that was wanting older people to feel more valued because we could see when we’re looking at the strategic challenges that we’ve got in terms of having an aged care system, that’s really a place where people can’t wait to work.
Because it’s so valued and so great, and so many wonderful things happening. Which of course, as I said, there are, but that’s not the reputation.
So, and we know, there are some unfortunate exceptions of course, as well. So we want to get rid of those. And make it genuinely really positive.
And then we’ve got the huge issue of ageism. So how can we make a positive contribution into that space? Rather than previously, we were really dealing with service providers and their teams. And we’re saying, okay, “what about older people in the general community?”
So See Me Know Me – wanting all the people to feel more valued. And actually part of the original intent was also empowering people to have some tricky questions they can ask service providers.
As whilst we’ve got expectations around holistic well-being in the aged care quality standards, which is really fantastic and that’s only come into effect in the middle of last year.
A piece of the puzzle was we need older people in their families to expect that aged care services will respond to them holistically. Will understand them as a whole person, all the things I’ve been talking about.
Because if we can get community demand happening, and we’ve got some regulation happening, then that would help to transform the system.
You also need the funding, which is another story.
So that was part of the idea behind See Me Know Me was that kind of empowering or equipping people to be able to ask some hard questions of aged care.
Now in the process of developing See Me Know Me when we started engaging with older people, we also found that a number of them were responding some of the… we were developing posters.
You can see, I know this is a podcast that listeners won’t be able to see, but you can see one of the posters behind me there. So we have these posters with a really strong image of a really nice, strong image of an older person, all sorts of different backgrounds with the words See Me Know Me. And then 10 statements about them of varying depths.
And this is also something really important about our work is we’re trying to add some depth. What we found when we started engaging with people around the whole idea of See Me Know Me, And is this something that does it resonate with you?
We got really, really positive feedback and we also found this gap.
So people saying, “well, my family wouldn’t even…I don’t even have these conversations in my family.” And people also hate thinking and talking about aged care, that’s another thing. So we found that if we went to some, seniors festivals and people were really intrigued by the posters and the statements and See Me Know Me and they’re like, “Oh yeah!”
And then they’d read the word aged care, and they would literally step backwards. Like, “Oh this is well, nothing to do with me.” So well, one day you might know someone who might need some aged care. So, having kind of found this, this need to be recognised, not just by aged care services, but actually in their own families, we flexed some of what we were doing.
So we kept the aged care kind of component, but we also started to do more work around creating materials to help people reflect on themselves.
Again, it’s that self-awareness piece, which I actually do see as empowerment. I think the more that you know yourself and what matters to you, then the more you’re able to speak for yourself and describe what you need. And not just chicken or beef, but actually again, trying to get down to some depth.
So we started to produce templates and other things, using the See Me Know Me approach with a design for self-awareness and also people to connect with each other. And we were able to get some funding.
So I was talking to the minister for aged care as part of our advocacy work. And he got really interested in what we were doing with See Me Know Me. And we’re really fortunate that we got a big contract to massively expand our activities. So we made a bunch of videos, we increased all of the kind of printed materials, things that we’re able to give out for free.
And we even have these really cute little conversation cards in something called a sharing mini. Which is little envelope sized thing that invite someone to sit down and have a cup of tea with an older person. You might do it with your best friend if you’re older person, or you might do it with a neighbour.
And of course what we found is that aged care services loved all of this stuff as well, because the really good aged care services respond when there’s an opportunity to help them connect with people. But they were designed for the general community. So we’ve been mailing them out. We did some newspaper advertising, we did some theatre events. We did some high teas.
We did the high teas. We heavily subsidised them using some of the government funding. So it was like $5 a ticket at nice hotels. It was a proper high tea experience as part of some seniors festivals in Melbourne and Hobart and Adelaide and Sydney.
And It was a See Me Know Me event.
But what we did was we had people in small tables, so four or six. And were encouraging them, like, bring a friend or come on your own. It’s going to be okay.
We got some support from some of our members – there is a particular role called a spiritual care practitioner, which are people who specialise in helping people have these sort of conversations.Very open-ended very, you know, gracious space.
So some of them volunteered their staff to come and help, just to keep an eye on people in case they got a bit stuck. And we had the See Me Know Me conversation cards at the tables, and we encouraged people to use the cards to talk. And just the feedback was amazing.
People were so surprised. People saying, “I didn’t even know I could talk like this”, and again it’s about that depth.
So people sharing things, some people were sharing things with total strangers, which sometimes we feel we can be more honest actually with total strangers rather than my family.
All learning things about each other, and then they were all even the little kits to take away and some other things to help kind of keep the conversation going.
Unfortunately, that was, that was a government contract and we weren’t able to get. More money to do that again this year, although it would have been pretty diabolical trying to do it in the middle of the pandemic.
So maybe it was good that we were able to do that. Because they were saying, “Oh I’ll be back next year. I’m going to bring people next year.”
You know, they just, it blew their minds. It was so much fun. And memorably, someone did say in their evaluation, you took the spook out of spiritual which I loved.
So that was the original See Me Know Me. And then we’ve got such a strong, positive response to the whole idea of See Me Know Me, we wanted to see if we could do something else under that umbrella.
Now See Me Know Me has its own website, which is where people can order those free materials or download things – SeeMeKnowMe.org.au
And so we’ve got another project which is just come into fruition that had been on the boil with us for some time. And it’s using a specific framework called The Map of Meaning. So we had published, in partnership with a woman in New Zealand called Lani Morris, a guide for aged care services using this framework, The Map of Meaning.
So we could see that it was a really useful way – it complimented a lot of our other resources, but also added some different dimensions for service providers to really understand the role of meaning and give them a way to evaluate what they were doing through that lens of meaning.
So we had published a service provider handbook, but we had another piece of work ticking away, which was a self-reflection guide.
So using the same framework, but a self-reflection guide for older people to use themselves. Or if someone was running a small group in the community, something like that.
So very much fitting under the See Me Know Me umbrella.
So we worked with some older people on, well, Lani did a whole lot of engagements with, playing with the framework with older people and she wrote a whole lot of content.
And then I picked that up with my team at Meaningful Ageing. And we worked with some older people around a physical, what would you want a physical book to be like?
If it was something like this for reflection on yourself in life and, meaning potentially to share with a trusted other person, what should it be like?
And they said, “we want it spiral bound. We want a firm cover. So you can sit up in bed and just flip it back and have a bit of, you know, we need spaces to write.
Don’t put lines on. I don’t want lines. Lines are too restrictive, keep it open spaces. I like checkboxes. I like this. I like that.”
So we took all of that onboard and designed The Map of Meaning and Ageing Self-reflection Guides. And then we printed some prototypes and sent them out to the older people.
We did a zoom call with them, they weren’t allowed to open, or we asked them not to open them, until we were on the call with them. So that we could physically see them the very first time they laid their eyes on the prototype to see what they did. And encouraged them to just be honest in terms of their facial expressions and whatever else – that they didn’t have to try to appear polite or something. And got them to have a good look around at the resource as part of that first exposure.
And then they sat with it for a couple of weeks and actually worked through it. And then we met with them again as a group and said, “what do you reckon? What needs to change? What bits should be moved around?”
And I had my heart in my mouth for that meeting. I was looking forward to it, but I was really nervous.
Cause you know, when you’ve put something out there and they just loved it, they found it really helpful. And again, I think they were quite surprised at the places that it took them within themselves and they really could see its value as something to connect with others as well and saying, “I really want to share the things that I’m finding out about my own ageing. What matters to me and where I find meaning.”
Now we were talking about spirituality earlier, Ashley and actually this resource, this little book, doesn’t mention spirituality, that the S word, anywhere. So we’ve tried to create more possibilities for more people to feel more comfortable engaging with it.
I’ve met a lot of people over the years that love what we’re doing. And have just said, “can’t you just get rid of that word?”
It really makes some people so uncomfortable. So we have gotten rid of that word if you like. So meaning is central to spirituality, but we haven’t made that point explicit in this book because we didn’t need to.
So it’s safe in terms of, if people just really cannot stand that word, it’s just too triggering or whatever else, The Map of Meaning and Ageing, a Self-reflection Guide invites people into a beautiful exploratory process. It assumes nothing about people’s beliefs or backgrounds or gender identity or cultural background or whatever.
You know, it’s a very open process that really meets you where you are and encourages you to know yourself. And it’s at the printers and it will be sent out in October.

Ash de Neef: Fantastic. And I haven’t looked at The Map of Meaning resources yet, but I did have a look at the See Me Know Me stuff and already I can feel that… The conversations I’m having with my Oma for example, have changed a little bit, to be much more about, who she is and what she values and, and trying to dig down into that sort of territory.
Ilsa we’ve covered so much and I still have so many more questions,. But we’re probably very close to our time. Is there anything you want to talk about before we leave it there for today?

Ilsa Hampton: I’m so happy. You told me that you’ve looked at See Me Know Me Ashley, that’s great. I should say with The Map of Meaning and Ageing a Self-reflection Guide, that it’s available now to be ordered from our service provider website, which is MeaningfulAgeing.org.au.
And we’re getting organised to make it available through the See Me Know Me website as well. So that SeeMeKnowMe.org.au,
I just wanted to thank you really for inviting me to share and for what you’re doing with everyone that you’re inviting all of the guests and all of the listeners. Because I really think it is about collaboration and connection, I guess, in keeping with what I’ve been saying.
The people in aged care are absolutely the front line and as they say. But there’s also in terms of the web of our relationships. I think we can all work together, connect and collaborate to help aged care, get where it needs to go. The system will have so much better chance of success if it’s not left –
I feel like some of what happens with, with aged care and the way it’s dealt with in our society is that it’s a lot of finger pointing and kind of them over there. Whereas actually the story of ageing in Australia it’s all of our stories. I mean, if you’re over 30 you’re ageing and certainly we all have mothers and grandmothers and aunts and uncles.
And then the story of aged care is a story of what kind of a society we are. And so it really is about all of us working together to realise that vision for meaning, purpose and connected-ness as people age.

Ash de Neef: Fantastic. Thank you so much for your time today Ilsa.

Ilsa Hampton: Pleasure.

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