The Wagga Men’s Shed has teamed up with Wagga Base Hospital in a hands-on project that is set to provide some much-needed relief to dementia sufferers.
This week, the Men’s Shed presented the hospital with two dementia activity boards, which are designed to distract patients while helping to rebuild their fine motor skills and muscle strength.
Amanda Nicholson of Wagga Base Hospital’s aged care service emergency team said she expected the boards to work wonders for dementia patients coming through the emergency department.
“We quite frequently have dementia patients come into the emergency department who are unsettled because they are out of their normal environment or away from the people who they know,” Ms Nicholson said.
“They can become quite agitated and disorientated and start pulling at things – like if we pop lines in, they pull them out, or they start trying to climb out of the bed.”
The two boards feature everyday objects like light switches, door handles, and gate latches.
Ms Nicholson said these fixtures have a calming effect on dementia patients by reminding them of their own homes.
“These boards are for the gentleman who may have worked in woodwork or electrical or did odd jobs around the house,” she said.
“It brings back memories, so they're able to just fiddle with the locks and stuff on the board, and it distracts them from what's going on around them so they're more settled.”
Ms Nicholson thanked the Men’s Shed for their generous donation on behalf of the hospital’s dementia nursing staff, who should have a much easier time caring for patients when they are not agitated.
“They've done an awesome job with these boards and, not only have they donated their time, but the boards came at no cost to the hospital,” she said.
“Caring for dementia patients can be challenging, but this will hopefully make our jobs a little easier and make our patients more comfortable.”
While the boards will provide some much-needed distraction at the hospital, Men’s Shed member John Stuvenrauch said it was also a very rewarding experience for his team.
“It was very good and very satisfying to do a project for the hospital, we always enjoy the charity projects we get,” Mr Stuvenrauch said.
“We made two boards, and each one took about four hours by the time we cut them and fixed all the fittings to them.
“Anything they can do with their hands is good for their motor skills, and apparently those common household items also remind them of home.”