Aged care residents show you’re never too old to ‘Play Up’

It’s always advisable to ask what activities are available at the aged care facility being considered for a loved one.

At Uniting NSW.ACT’s The Marion aged care facility in Leichhardt, in Sydney’s Inner West, there’s a theatre group.

Playing up for these residents though means loosening up and having a giggle as they join their volunteer Drama Teachers Belinda Mason and Colleen Kennedy in their aged care drama class – in what could be Australia’s oldest aged theatre group.

“We used to put on productions, but now the focus is more on play and improvisation inspired by theatre sports games,” Colleen said.


Belinda said, “We use drama, movement and storytelling exercises that are fun and helpful in relieving stress and encouraging connections with others.”

“Some of our members live with dementia so being able to be a part of a group that has fun allows them to express themselves and enjoy the company of others without feeling stressed or vulnerable.”

Belinda said seeing how much each of the group’s members got out of the classes makes it all worthwhile.


“Seeing them laugh and have fun is so wonderful, especially after having been so isolated during Covid. Many of our members also live with dementia and lose their confidence in their ability to communicate which in turn isolates them further, so seeing them being able to express themselves is just heartwarming.”


One of the participants in the class, 95-year-old Billie Brace, moved into The Marion earlier this year and wasted no time in joining up.

“I’m a bit of a dramatic person. I’ve always tried not to be boring,” said Billie.

“What I like is the wonderful sense of companionship. The group understands how you’re living and what you’re going through, there’s something wonderous about it and I really look forward to seeing everyone each week."

Alison, 84, who has Parkinson’s Disease, stressed the importance for her was the sense of belonging to a group and sharing stories and laughter.

Colleen added: “What people are feeling in these reduced circumstances in terms of age and the fact they’re now institutionalised is that they’re shutting down, this group and class allows them to be playful and open up their feelings again.”

Popular Articles

View All Articles
Article Img
What makes a great retirement village manager?

As anyone who lives in a retirement village will tell you, the village manager is a central figure who is critical to the success of the village and the happiness and wellbeing of village residents. But there’s no doubt the village manager plays an essential role. So, what is the role of a retirement village manager?

Article Img
Retirement villages without exit fees? They’re happening!

Retirement villages without exit fees? They’re happening! Now, some of Australia’s largest retirement village operators are looking at new ways to pay for retirement villages that don’t include exit fees – indeed, there are calls for some exit fees to be banned.

Article Img
What sort of profits do retirement village owners make?

The number of Australians over the age of 75 is expected to increase by 70% over the next six years. The number of Australians over the age of 80 is expected to triple to more than 3.5 million over the next 40 years. As the number of older people in Australia surges, so too does demand for age-appropriate housing – such as retirement villages, which offer an affordable lifestyle, community, and ongoing health and wellness support.

Article Img
73% of Australians willing to sacrifice inheritance for aged care

Nearly three-quarters of all Australians are willing to sacrifice their own inheritance so their parents and grandparents can enjoy the retirement they deserve, according to a new report by B2B aged care service CompliSpace.

Article Img
Volunteers are the backbone of the aged care sector, and more are needed

Tens of thousands of people, of all ages, such as 90-year-old Lily Burns and 20-year-old Charlise Hannagan, volunteer in aged care homes. The Change Makers is the theme for this year’s National Volunteer Week, 15 to 21st May, which celebrates the vital work of volunteers.

A special thanks to our contributors

Caroline Egan

DCM Media, agedcare101

Caroline has a wealth of experience writing within the retirement and aged care sector and is a contributing journalist for the and agedcare101 blog and accompanying newsletters.

Ian Horswill


Ian is a journalist, writer and sub-editor for the aged care sector, working at The DCM Group. He writes for The Weekly Source, agedcare101, and the DCM Institute fortnightly newsletter Friday. Ian is in daily contact with CEOs of retirement living, land lease and the aged care operations and makes a new contact every week. He investigates media releases, LinkedIn and Facebook for a good source for ideas for stories.

Lauren Broomham

Retirement and Aged Care Journalist

Lauren is a journalist for, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

Jill Donaldson


Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.