Handcrafted interactive gift assists memory

AWAKEN THE SENSES… From left, Shepparton Villages’ Men’s Shed co-ordinator, Kevin Grover and Hakea Lodge resident, Ed Penhall showcasing the interactive fiddle board during a special unveiling event last week. Photo: Ash Beks.

Members of Shepparton Retirement Villages’ Bertram House were gifted an interactive fiddle board last week, designed and assembled over several months by the aged-care facility’s Men’s Shed group.

Covered in an array of gadgets, tools, technology and an assortment of other knick-knacks, the board is designed to activate the hands and minds of bored or isolated residents, especially those suffering with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

During a special unveiling event last week, Men’s Shed co-ordinator, Kevin Grover explained that a group of about fifteen residents and ten volunteers worked hard on the fiddle board twice a week for a couple of months.

“This is a fiddle board, but it’s sometimes referred to as a sensory board,” Kevin explained. “The idea was presented to us by one of the personal carers here to make something out in the garden that the fellas at Bertram House can interact with.”

Following the official unveiling, Kevin and resident of Hakea Lodge, Ed Penhall, demonstrated the gadgets featured on both sides of the fiddle board.

“Everyone remembers what this does,” Kevin said, spinning a bike wheel with a playing card lodged in the spokes. A noise echoed throughout the kitchen and the audible gasps and wide-eyes of the residents said it all.

Other features on the double-sided fiddle board include old car lights, handles and spinners, spanners, a triangle, dinner bell, plus a whole manner of other odds and ends that make a sound, light up or move.

Shepparton Villages public relations and marketing director, Jo Breen remarked that the board is a great asset to residents and took time to acknowledge the excellent work of the Men’s Shed.

“The Men’s Shed is a great space for residents to gather twice a week and enjoy each other’s company,” Mrs Breen said.

“Even though they might be tinkering on machinery, painting, making jigsaws or doing woodwork, the main part is about getting together to hang out.”

Community members donated roughly 90 percent of all materials used for the fiddle board, with Marshall Batteries donating the car battery.

The Shepparton Villages Men’s Shed is open from 10am until 2pm on Wednesday and Friday and members of the community are invited to purchase their handcrafted toys and other creations.