A common thread at Bupa Tumut

A sewing group at Bupa Aged Care Tumut is not only providing residents with the skills to make their own clothing but is helping them to patch the gap between young and old.

Sewing was common in households throughout the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, but at Bupa Tumut in NSW it has had a resurgence, thanks to the home’s lifestyle coordinator Lorinda Watkins.

Lorinda says she’s always looking for activities that are relatable and meaningful to the residents.

“I aim to ensure that the activities are meaningful to our residents, and sewing is a prime example of that. We were able to purchase a sewing machine and our auxiliary helped us get an overlocker and sewing cabinet,” she said.

“One of our residents, Mavis Bridle, hadn’t sewn for 60 years until recently and has taken to it as if she has been sewing for her whole life. Jeannine and Marion in our home have also taken a shine to sewing.

“Not all residents need to know how to sew; many of them decorate, cut fabric and separate textiles as needed. These tasks are especially powerful for our residents who are living with dementia,” she said. 

Jeannine Elst sits intently focused on the overlocker as it hums along, closely watched by Lorinda and Mavis who encourage her with tips and tricks, collectively gathered over a lifetime.

“I used to sew bras here in Tumut, the patterns were cut out in Sydney and then sent here by train," Mavis remembers.

"We stitched them at the factory and then they were sent back to Sydney, but most never made it back because they were knocked off from the train

“I haven’t sewn for 60 years and I am 90 years old now but still enjoy pinning the patterns, cutting them out and sewing in a straight line.

“At the moment we are making summer dresses for another staff member’s daughter as well as little aprons for children at Tumut Community Preschool.

“I enjoy sewing, the people we make things for really appreciate it. Sometimes we can’t quite thread the needle but Lorinda is really helpful when we get stuck,” she said.