Friday, 2 November 2018

Nurture by Nature Workshop

Two workshops were presented by Alice Ashwell, an environmental educator from Dementia Connections SA who flew up from Cape Town to teach us about the importance of making nature and the outdoors a part of everyday life here at the care centre. 
Getting a daily dose of morning sunlight is beneficial to our health; time spent in nature can help with fitness, stamina, appetite and bone health, and can strengthen our immune system and improve sleep.

Workshop participants did some craft and creative activities using nature’s resources and some relaxation exercises, all of which will be shared with care centre residents in the future. 

The care centre’s Debbie Christen comments: “This workshop helped us realise that this beautiful environment in which we are all so privileged to work and live, is not just for ‘pretty’ – it is a natural habitat where our souls can be calmed and nourished.”


Ethelwynne’s interesting story shared

Back row: Zabeth Zühlsdorff (Rand Aid management), Victor van Eck (son), Nathalie van Eck (daughter-in-law), Ivan van Eck (son) and Phyllis Phillips (Ron Smith’s liaison manager). Front row: Jill Jones and Ethelwynne van Eck.


Rand Aid’s Ron Smith Care Centre and Elphin Lodge believe that if a resident has a good story to tell, it should be shared.

The staff love creating platforms for residents and staff to get to know each other a little better. One of the ways this is achieved is through the Eden Alternative ‘My Story’ initiative, in which the wonderful life stories of village and care centre residents are captured in booklet form, thereby affirming and validating the personhood of each individual.

On October 26, family, friends and fellow residents of Ethelwynne van Eck from the Woodlands wing of Ron Smith Care Centre, as well as various members of staff, gathered for a celebration tea at which Ethelwynne was presented with her newly-printed booklet.

Ethelwynne’s neighbour, Jill Jones, spent many hours with her, recording and writing up her story from her earliest years to the present day. From family struggles during the war and post-war days, through university successes and work as a teacher, to her marriage and a good life with exciting travels and many joyous occasions.

She tells of funny experiences in bringing up four children, all of whom are now graduates with successful careers, and how she became a talented and very successful artist.

The charmed good life, however, suddenly came to a halt in August 2015 when she suffered a stroke which left her right side paralysed. She was devastated as she now had to rely on others and, worst of all, she could no longer paint.

She moved to the Ron Smith Care Centre and eventually was introduced to the Tuesday morning art group at Elphin Lodge. It was here that she started training herself to draw with her left hand and gradually she started to paint again. She has set up her room as her art studio and it is there that she spends hours doing what she loves most – painting in oils.

Her friend, Jill, commented: “Eth’s fortitude in the face of frustrating circumstances is something I admire greatly. She deserves all praise for learning how to use her left hand and being able to paint so beautifully again.”

Her son Victor spoke about his mother being initially reluctant to move from her beautiful home into the care centre but today, he said, she tells him how happy she is now and how she would not like to live anywhere else.

She feels that she is well cared for and her life is full, with her friends, her art, her iPad and continuing interest in the news and world around her. She is content.

An example of the work Ethelwynne van Eck is managing to produce using her left hand.