Sonas apc, now over 20 years old is an organisation which aims to carry out what it says in the title since apc stands for activating potential for communication. We do this in order to enhance quality of life for older people, hence the use of the word Sonas meaning wellbeing, joy and contentment. This ministry comes out of my own background of nearly 40 years working as a Speech and Language Therapist.
Sonas apc is responsible for the development of different programmes (see www.sonasapc.ie). Many people are familiar with the Sonas programme for older people with communication difficulties (caused for example by dementia). At our courses we train carers to implement the programme to quality standard. As well as holding regular training courses, this year sees the fifth of our International Conferences aimed at promoting best practice in the care of people with dementia.
The Religious Sisters of Charity have been generous in their support of the work we do. Our output includes the provision of spirituality resources suitable for older people both of the Roman Catholic faith (Ciúnas) and in a more recent programme we have developed an ecumenical approach available to all Christian churches (Serenity). Thanks to financial support from the Sisters of Charity we have commissioned a professional research project entitled “Serenity Spirituality Sessions Pilot Study”. The purpose of this study is to explore the value of this type of spiritual practice especially for older people in residential or day care. The research will run until July 2013. Many older people are no longer able to attend their local churches but religious practice is still important to them.
As memory fades, material learned by heart comes to the surface and often needs to be triggered. The greater the difficulty with recall the more it can be helped by being provided with a structure and with repetition. That is why hymns and prayers once known by heart can be triggered, especially when music is added.
In promoting best practice in the area of spirituality for the older person we are holding two public events this year. On the 1st March 2013 there will be a Spirituality Seminar on the topic “Exploring the Spiritual Dimensions of End of Life in the Care of Older People”. This will be held in Avila Conference centre (enquiries to Sonas apc at 01 2608138). On the 12th July we have the pleasure of welcoming Elizabeth MacKinlay from Australia to present a one-day Masterclass on the general topic of spirituality in later life. Details will be announced later.
We are scheduled to record an interview with RTE’s religious programme ‘The God Slot’ which will be aired on one of their Friday night programmes at 10pm.
Mary Aikenhead heard the cry of the materially poor and responded. Our ministry is a response to the cry of the spiritually poor whose deeply felt needs are often neglected in this materialistic world of 2013.
Mary Threadgold RSC