Mater patients with dementia keep minds active with fiddle boards

20/Dec/2022     Mater Hospital Brisbane

Patients living with dementia at Mater Hospital Brisbane will be keeping their minds active and motor skills on track with the creation and donation of several new fiddle boards thanks to a local community-based men’s group.

Donated by the South Brisbane Men’s Shed, the fiddle boards include barrel bolts, security latches with chains, cabin hooks and spinning wheels.

Jessica Wall, Mater Hospital Brisbane Eat Walk Engage Facilitator, said the fiddle boards would benefit several patients, many in their 80s and 90s, with advanced dementia, or delirium.

“Eat Walk and Engage is a delirium prevention program. People with advanced dementia are at high risk of developing delirium and this is one strategy we can implement to prevent it,” Ms Wall said.

“Having something familiar that people can keep engaging with is important to their mental health and wellbeing,” Ms Wall said.

“A lot of our patients become more interested when it’s time to tinker with tools. It helps with distracting their minds and keeping them calm especially when there’s a lot of equipment on these boards.

“Sometime patients with advanced dementia can get quite agitated and these fiddle boards help with their memory, familiarity, and fine motor skills. It also assists with their hand-eye coordination, strength and dexterity.”

Ms Wall said aside from puzzles and games the boards were something different for patients to touch and feel.

“Fiddle boards are great for sensory stimulation and feeling different textures.”

South Brisbane Men’s Shed acting president Philip Sharp and fellow group member Phil Hart, who conceptualised the fiddle board idea, have worked on constructing the fiddle boards to deliver to the hospital just in time for Christmas.

Mr Sharp, from Highgate Hill, said he was hoping to build several more for patients involved in Mater’s Eat, Walk and Engage program.

“We know that being in a hospital can be stressful for someone living with dementia and understand how important routines are for them,” Mr Sharp, 67, said.

“We hope these new fiddle boards can lessen that anxiety and create a familiar activity for patients.”

Mr Sharp said creating the fiddle boards was a very worthwhile community project to help Mater patients.

“It’s been a real success. It only takes a few men to help with routing and sourcing the items – and who doesn’t like a trip to Bunnings,” he said.

Mr Sharp said while the project was beneficial to patients, he also highlighted the mental health benefits of attending the Men’s Shed.

“Being able to do these community projects is great for us men too, we can have a yarn and work on projects together,” Mr Sharp said.

“For me it was a way my wife got me off the couch,” he laughed.

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