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8th September 2020 Latest News Creative Health

Hope and healing with bird boxes

Bird Boxes   Centre for Creative Health   Mule Shed   dementia

Collaborative project helps patients spread their wings.

A $4 kit is providing hours of vital therapy for patients who require rehabilitation and others living with dementia in a collaborative project proudly supported by THRF Group charity Centre for Creative Health (CCH)!

Tucked away at Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre is the CCH’s Mule Shed Activity Hub, which supports patients in their rehabilitation journey. Here, a project building Bird Boxes was hatched, giving patients the opportunity to use their hands and undertake an activity with purpose.

The idea developed when Support Services Manager Shane McInnes saw a need for art therapy materials to support patients in the acute Mental Health Ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (TQEH).

Instead of patients at the Mule Shed fully assembling Bird Boxes, they are turning them into Ikea-style kits which are being delivered to older patients who have challenging Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD), giving them a chance to get hands on with a project, aiding their rehabilitation.

“Participating in meaningful activities is an important part of the treatment for both mental health conditions and BPSD,” occupational therapist for TQEH Older Persons Mental Health, Lorraine Ng, said.

“It is difficult to find activities that men find meaningful to do, but since the Bird Boxes flat packs have been available, there has been great improvement in the amount of engagement in activities by men on the ward.

“For people with dementia this activity engagement assists in helping them to feel in control of their lives and reduces agitation, aggression and code blacks.”

The kits provide 4-6 hours of therapy time for patients at Hampstead and TQEH. CCH’s Diversional Therapist and Activity Hub Coordinator Brad Wilson says the Bird Boxes are a small price to pay for the major impact it’s having on patients.

“It’s a huge amount of therapy for just $4 for a sheet of board,” Brad said.

“For our rehab patients, it’s really meaningful for them to do something with a sense of purpose behind it.”


Volunteer Coordinator Carlie Sangster liaised with volunteers currently working within the Mule Shed Activity Hub to get them on board the project.

Milan Stojsavljevic, a former Brain Injury patient who accessed the Mule Shed during his recovery, and is now volunteering has taken pride in helping current inpatients prepare and make the Bird Box kits.

“It’s a great example of CALHN embracing collaboration and creating partnerships across the health network that benefit patients,” she said.

Tim’s story

Rehabilitation patient Tim Roling was typically one to tinker and do general repairs around the home before suffering brain aneurism at Easter.

After spending three weeks in an induced coma at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, he was transferred to Hampstead for rehabilitation which included hands on therapy in the Mule Shed to help prepare him to transition home.

“The Bird Box has been a great project,” he said.

“The Mule Shed was really important to get used to power tools and understand things again and see how much I remember.

“Staff here have been great. Anything I’ve needed has always been here.”

The initiative has gone full circle with TQEH team planning to make and send baked goodies back to the Hampstead team to say ‘thank you’.