When I am old I shall wear purple: a qualitative study of the effect of group poetry sessions on the well-being of older adults

SEYMOUR Richard, MURRAY Michael
Journal article citation:
Working with Older People, 20(4), 2016, pp.195-198.

Purpose: There is increasing evidence that participation in various art forms can be beneficial for health and well-being. The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of participating in a poetry reading group on a group of older residents of an assisted living facility. Design/methodology/approach: Six poetry sessions, each on a different theme, were conducted with a group of volunteer participants. These sessions, those of pre- and post-study focus groups and interviews with the group facilitator and staff contact were audio-recorded. The transcripts of the recordings were then subjected to a thematic analysis. Findings: Overall the participants were enthused by the opportunity to participate in the project and the benefits were confirmed by the support staff. In addition, reading poetry on particular themes promoted different types of discussion. Research limitations/implications: The number of participants in this study was small and the study was conducted over a short period of time. Practical implications: This paper confirms the impact of poetry reading for older people. The challenge is to explore this impact in more detail and over community as well as residential settings. Originality/value: This paper is the first empirical report on the value of poetry reading for older people. (Edited publisher abstract)

Subject terms:
arts, older people, social activities, groupwork, wellbeing, residential care;
Content type:
United Kingdom
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