Living library at the nursing home, community and participation for the elderly

This article is written from Swedish perspectives. Hopefully, it can inspire interested parties from other countries.

Many of our elders have life experiences that can be beneficial to others. Living libraries have become a popular offering in parts of the country. Often, it involves a person who has had a serious illness sharing their experiences from care and treatment. Perhaps it is possible to make variations of this in the nursing home. Living libraries are a powerful method to promote community, understanding, and empathy in nursing homes. By highlighting people's unique stories and experiences, we can create an environment where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued.

Foto: Mostphotos

Those who have experience as a patient or relative may have a lot to contribute to the development of health and medical care. The Living Library consists of people of different ages with different backgrounds and skills. They represent a disease group or are relatives. The common denominator is that they want to contribute with their experiences from health and medical care. They can participate in, for example, projects and development work, on development days, workshops, introductory training, and conferences.

This gives the common man the opportunity to listen to various stories and learn from them. Having people who tell and give advice based on their own experiences of illness or disability provides quality that traditional care can never give.

Living Library at the Elderly Home: An Oasis of Stories and Community

The Living Library is an exciting project that comes to life through human "books" - people who share their life stories and experiences with interested listeners. The concept has gained more and more spread and has proven to be particularly meaningful and rewarding in elderly care and nursing homes.

Creation of Human Books

In a living library, people become living books who share their life stories, experiences, and insights. These "books" represent different backgrounds, occupations, cultures, and life destinies, creating a rich diversity of stories.

Use at the Elderly Home

At nursing homes, the living library can create a meaningful and enriching environment for the residents. By listening to and interacting with the human books, the elderly can learn from each other's experiences and feel an increased sense of community and understanding.

Benefits for the Elderly

Community and Participation: By participating in the living library, the elderly have the opportunity to feel involved and appreciated.
Meaningful Conversations: Conversations with the human books can arouse thoughts, reflections, and memories among the elderly, which can contribute to an increased quality of life.
Emotional Experience: Listening to others' life stories can be an emotional and touching experience that provides perspective and insights.

Implementation and Execution

To succeed with a living library at the elderly home, careful planning and organization are required. It is important to create a safe and respectful environment where both "books" and "readers" feel comfortable.

The Living Library is a powerful method to promote community, understanding, and empathy in nursing homes. By highlighting people's unique stories and experiences, we can create an environment where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued.

Reflection Questions - Living Library
Care staff:
- Could this be used in some form in the elderly home?
- Perhaps there are people who have lived for a while who could serve as mentors for newly moved in?

Manager, Nurse, Occupational Therapist, and Physiotherapist:
- Would it be possible to invite people who talk about how they have handled different diseases?
- Could there be innovative thinking about diabetes, stroke rehabilitation or other treatments?

Residents or relatives:
- Would you consider contributing to group activity or do you have people in your network who could contribute with something?

Erland Olsson
Specialist Nurse
Better care every day

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