Congratulations to the VMCH Pastoral Care team for winning Catholic Health Australia’s (CHA) 2017 Arts in Health award.
The team accepted the award and $5,000 prize at CHA’s National Conference in Hobart on Wednesday, August 30.
The innovative VMCH Arts in Action program was formed in early 2016 when aged care resident, Norma, told her Pastoral Care Worker, Liz Winston, of a deep and unfulfilled need to give back to others.
Subsequent conversations revealed Norma wasn’t alone. And so, a team of 20 aged care residents was formed to create Arts in Action; using their artistic skills to make crafts for people less fortunate than themselves.
The seniors’ creations were used in Christmas hampers, put together by VMCH staff and distributed to those living in VMCH affordable housing units and those accessing disability and community services programs.
Liz (pictured middle with Acting Director Catholic Identity and Mission Bridget O’Shannassy and VMCH CEO Sonya Smart) said the program, currently running from two of VMCH’s aged care 12 aged care residences, had helped improve residents’ self-worth and purpose, and foster bonds with other program members. Those living with dementia and disabilities were also able to participate, through painting or decorating wrapped items, she said.
“Options were planned for residents around their artistic/creative interests and current level of ability. If a resident had been an artistic painter all their life but hand dexterity meant they could no longer produce fine work, they could now participate in painting craft items and choosing colour,” Liz said.
The seniors made 800 craft items for 172 hampers in 2016, and are on track to create an astounding 2,500 items for 500 hampers this year.
Affordable Housing resident Helen, 91, said she was excited to receive her hamper last Christmas, especially as she was spending the day alone.
“How special, I have not had a gift in 20 years,” she said.
The Pastoral Care team will use their $5,000 prize to purchase craft supplies for the upcoming Christmas hamper season, and help rollout the program across all VMCH aged care residences.