Respect Aged Care in Cohuna keeping residents active | Gallery

By Sophie Baldwin

THE knitting needles have been busily clacking away and a kaleidoscope of colour and creativity have been unleashed as residents at Respect Aged Care in Cohuna knit their way through lockdown and a global pandemic.

Residents have been busily yarn bombing any stationary object they can find - trees, light poles, rails and even those objects not so stationary including a resident’s walker.

The establishment of a non-contact ‘welcome window’ is also helping keep the lines of communication open.

Respect general manager Claire Fry said while it is a trying time for everyone, management and staff are doing their very best to keep residents healthy and content.

“We are doing everything we can to keep our residents entertained and connected while physical contact with family is impossible,” Ms Fry said.

“We are hosting skype meetings on iPads and residents can talk to family over the phone anytime.

“The welcome window allows residents to sit in a comfortable chair behind the safety of the glass and see the family member on the other side while they talk to them through a loud mobile phone,” Ms Fry said.

For Di Bowles, the welcome window has allowed her to not only talk to her mum, Pam Brown, but also physically see her.

“Mum is busily waving to me before she even gets to sit down in the chair,” Di said.

“While I talk to mum a couple of times a day on the phone, I still wanted to physically be able to see her.

“I was surprised how emotional I was the first time I used the window – mum cried when she saw me and I cried when I walked away.”

Di said she now makes a bit of an effort with her appearance for her twice weekly window visits which are scheduled at morning teatime, so her mum doesn’t miss out on any of the daily activities.

“The first time I just wore my old clothes, but mum tells me I look more put together when I get dressed up,” she laughed.

Di said she has nothing but praise for the staff who have cared for her mum since December.

“In these trying times I think mum is in the right place and I have no problem with her being in lockdown, after all the elderly are the most vulnerable and need to be protected,” Di said.

Resident and spinner and weaver Joy Calder said the establishment of the knitting group has been great.

“I bought some wool in with me when I came in here,” Joy said.

“We started out yarn bombing a tree and it has grown from there.

“We have people who have never learnt to knit and others who can knit beautifully and it is really nice to see everyone sitting down together talking and having fun.”

Joy said everyone is trying to keep themselves occupied and they are all coping as best they can.

“We are lucky to be inhere where it is safe, and everyone does everything for us. Family and friends can still come and talk to us and the staff are really looking after us,” Joy said.

The 45-bed facility currently has 44 residents.

“We have kept one empty bed in case it is needed by someone in the community and we can hand that over,” Ms Frysaid.

She said anyone who must go outside the building for something like a doctor’s appointment now have to self-isolate.

“Even those residents coming out of self-isolation are coming out happy,” Ms Fry said.