Star songstress joins Life Care
Published: 03 Dec 2021
A six-string guitar, song-writing chops, and a voice that has starred at WOMADelaide – just what you need to be Adelaide aged care’s first Musician in Residence.
South Australian aged care provider Life Care has hired award-winning singer songwriter Kelly Menhennett as its Musician in Residence, in what’s believed to be the state’s first appointment of its kind.
Kelly uses music to boost residents’ wellbeing at five Life Care aged care facilities in Aldinga, Reynella, Joslin, Everard Park and Glen Osmond. Rather than ad-hoc visits from a musician or band, Kelly’s ongoing role allows her to connect with residents and use her music to improve their physical and mental health.
Within the COVID restrictions at the time, she is teaching residents how to play instruments, helping residents tell their life stories through song writing, performing concerts with singing and dancing, and joining residents in regular jam sessions.
Research has shown that listening to and learning to play music has many physical and mental health benefits for older people, including encouraging exercise and activity such as dancing, singing and clapping, promoting social interaction between aged care residents, increasing relaxation and enhancing mood, maintaining and/or improving cognitive function by learning something new and triggering older memories.
Kelly said she has been overwhelmed by the impact her music has had on residents. “There have been many singalongs, dancing, foot tapping, and song requests,” she said.
“Some residents just want to sit and enjoy the music, while others want to get involved. I’ve been teaching an 85-year-old resident how to play the ukulele and others to play guitar. I’m going to help some residents write songs about their lives, and then perform them. I’ve had a few great sessions of jamming with residents who play their instruments every day too.
“The residents have been enjoying it so much, that during the recent COVID lockdown, we used Zoom so that I could have my weekly catch ups with them all and play music on a video call instead.
“I’ve really loved meeting all the residents, learning their life stories, and supporting them with my music.”
Kelly’s career highlights include sharing a stage with Australian rocker Paul Kelly, finishing writing American gospel legend Albert E Brumley’s incomplete songs, and playing at major music festivals such as WOMADelaide.
Life Care Chief Executive Officer Allen Candy said the new role showed the not-for-profit’s commitment to continually improving the care it provides for its residents.
“Kelly’s appointment is part of our strategy to combine high-quality accommodation and care with innovative health and wellbeing programs that help older people age well,” he said.
“We were very excited to introduce Kelly to our residents and have been overwhelmed by the positive response we’ve had so far.”
Kelly’s appointment comes almost one year after another innovative appointment by Life Care, when renowned chef Bethany Finn took up the aged care provider’s first-ever Executive Chef in Residence role in September 2020.