Through connection and collaboration, SwanCare and Boronia Pre-release Centre for Women have fostered a valuable friendship.
8th January 2024
Communities provide the opportunity for people to form connections, a catalyst for social belonging and for creating a sense of meaning and purpose in everyday life - something we’ve experienced firsthand.
Over the years, SwanCare Waminda and the residents at Boronia Pre-Release Centre for Women have formed a beautiful connection through experiencing a variety of activities and events together.
One of their favourite examples of this is through the Mums and Bubs group, where the Boronia ladies and their children visit the residential aged care residents at Waminda.
When discussing Mums and Bubs, Ceri Williams, Waminda’s Social Engagement Team Leader, shared one moment that really moved her.
“One of the new mums visited with her baby who was about three months old. The mum realised that one of our residents, who was quite frail, was fixated on her baby but was not saying anything. The mum asked her if she would like to hold her baby, which of course our resident agreed to,” explained Ceri.
“With our support, she sat there holding and rocking the baby back and forth. The resident was so overwhelmed that she started to cry, and the mum comforted her. They spent a lot of time chatting, and from that moment on there was a bond between them.”
While it can be a busy time of year, the holiday seasons are a special time for both communities to connect.
“Over Christmas and Easter, our residents would help us make hampers for the kiddies,” said Ceri, “The residents get quite excited waiting to give the children their gifts, and there’s always something extra in there for the mums as well.”
Another one of Boronia’s initiatives is the Boronia Ladies’ Choir. Although not running now due to post-pandemic restrictions, previously there were up to 15 ladies who would perform at SwanCare.
“There’s a lot of talented ladies who can sing really well, and after each performance, they would help us serve afternoon tea before enjoying a cuppa and chat with the residents. We’d also invite them to our Waminda Christmas carols show.”
Sue Andrews, Manager of Family and Community Services at Boronia Pre-Release Centre for Women, explained the impact of the COVID-19 hangover.
“Boronia is a similar environment as aged care, in that it’s hard to stop viruses from spreading, but we are working hard to bring back the activities,” said Sue.
“It’s important for the women; they love all the interactions and form great relationships, so much so that many continue to volunteer after they’ve been released.”
It’s clear the physical boundaries created by the pandemic presented a huge challenge for both communities, however the ladies of Boronia were determined to not let it get in their way.
“They came to me one day and said, ‘I know we’re in lockdown, but why can’t we just sing through the fence?’ So, they did! It was all their idea,” explained Sue.
Their ingenious plan made them stars in their own right, ‘Hands Across the Fence’ was broadcasted by Channel 9, who came along to film their performance. “It was a wonderful experience,” said Ceri.
“During this time the Boronia ladies also painted a canvas for us which we have displayed in Waminda’s dining area. The Boronia ladies’ painted handprints all over it, stating we are all in this together. It was handmade - excuse the pun! It means a lot to us because it displays the close connection between Waminda and Boronia.”
Nowadys one of their favourite pastimes is Cycling Without Age’s ‘Ride 4 A Reason’ program, where the women at Boronia take SwanCare’s residential aged care residents out for a trishaw ride. Fresh air, exercise and great company - it’s not surprising the program has been so popular with countless physical and mental health benefits.
“Community interaction is so important,” said Sue, “For the Boronia women, they need to feel part of the community because they will be in it at some point. They also miss their families on the outside, so it’s nice for them to see other people.”
“I’ll never forget, before COVID one of our Boronia residents had a newborn baby, and she passed it to one of the SwanCare residents to hold. That resident had dementia, and no one had ever heard her speak, but then she started singing nursery rhymes with the baby in her arms. Everyone was in tears!”
It’s evident through stories like this, that the sense of community shared between SwanCare and Boronia has a powerful impact.
“It is so important to have this connection,” said Ceri, “We have so much to give to each other, especially our time, and that is worth more than any money you could spend.”
SwanCare is proud to have such a strong community connection with our neighbours at Boronia Pre- Release Centre for Women, and we look forward to creating many more memories together in the near future.
To watch the report from 10 News Perth, click here: Cycling Without Age | SwanCare & Boronia