Mobile workshop helps residents living with dementia

A dementia diagnosis can often mean an early retirement as well as a loss of hobbies and friends but a mobile workshop is helping Bupa Aged Care residents with the disease to get back to what they know and love.

Tucked away in our Ashfield home in New South Wales is a trolley packed with tools and contraptions that’s regularly rolled outside so that those living with dementia can interact, swap tips, techniques and tales.

The home’s maintenance officer, Sammy Dawood said it is a chance for residents to maintain the skills they’ve learned over a lifetime.

“The idea actually came from some of our other homes but we don’t have as much space as they do so I came up with a smaller scale version of their interactive workshops,” Mr Dawood said.

“I noticed the residents with dementia liked to fiddle so I built a trolley that had tap handles, phones, a shower head, mini steering wheel and a light switch which turns a battery powered light on and off.”

The draws are packed with screw drivers, a battery operated drill and saws with plenty of nuts and bolts as well because there are quite a few retired tradies in our home and this gives them a real sense of purpose.
Sammy Dawood, Ashfield's maintenance officer.

More than 23,900 Australians are estimated to have a diagnosis of dementia under the age of 65, and Margaret Ryan, head of dementia services at Bupa said it was important for them to live alongside others of a similar age and mind-set.

“There are many different stages that a person with Alzheimer's and Dementia will go through. It is very important to continue to provide quality of life at each of these stages. To do this it's important to look at what a person can do instead of what they cannot do,” Ms Ryan said.

Dementia may be dimming their memories but it can’t extinguish their passion for tinkering.

“It is important to look at the activity and task, then break it down into the simplest form so that the resident can accomplish the job.”

“One other important area of this activity or ones like it is to remember that these sessions can be passive or active. Some people enjoy watching as much as they do getting involved and that’s perfectly OK,” she said.

Discover 5 other ways to help people with dementia reconnect with past passions on Bupa Health Link 

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