We often conduct tea events in Aged Care facilities.
People in Aged Care facilities are usually over 60 and a large portion are well over that. Sixty years ago, the year was was 1957.
Family and social rituals embed themselves when we are very young; using AA Milne’s suggestion that once we are six we have a sense of person and surroundings then by definition, the formative years of people in Aged Care are 1963 or earlier.
Most people who work in aged care are, by definition, younger than their clients, and range between straight out of school and nearing retirement age. There’s no way to get an average, but let’s assume that average is ten to fifteen years younger than the 60 mark. So the key years move to 1973 to 1978.
Although introduced into the UK in 1953 and Australia and New Zealand shortly thereafter, the teab*g took time to gain acceptance. In 1967 in Australia we know teab*gs were only 3% of the market.
For whatever reason the lowering of standards and loss of ritual occurred, by 1980 teab*g usage was over 90%.
So it seems that Aged Care residents are most likely to be brought up around loose leaf; fast forward to their carer’s childhoods and the growing popularity of coffee and explosion of teab*g acceptance means the latter generation might see a teapot as something that sits at the back of Nanna’s cupboard. That’s my generation: I grew up in a household with no teapot. My mother’s five to seven cups per day were all bagged. And therefore, so were mine, way back then.
It seems to me that this leads to a generational gap. Sure, there are outliers in each generation, but the fact remains that when we visit Aged Care facilities, we often find that residents ‘get it’ and many of the staff do not.
As a species, we are capable of coping with complex problems, such as putting a man on the moon or the offside rule in soccer, and yet for forty years there seems to be an underlying assumption that using a teapot is too hard.
While I can lament such things, there is now an undeniable benefit: anybody can do what we do: turn up to a person of advanced years with a teapot and watch the joy it brings, the stories it releases, the quality of conversation it engenders and years it strips away.