By Allison Ferguson, Lifestyle Coordinator at Arcare Hope Island
Staff at Arcare Hope Island foster and support relationships between community members that heighten a sense of purpose and significance for residents, families and staff.
As the Lifestyle Coordinator at Arcare Hope Island to assist in achieving these aims, I wanted to find opportunities where residents were able to contribute, participate and have a sense of purpose within their local community.
The result being the creation of the Community Connect Program which was established in 2013.
The Community Connect Program is run by the lifestyle team with the assistance of care staff, volunteers, community contacts and most importantly residents and their families.
The program has grown in leaps and bounds since its creation and the benefits include the sense of pride, achievement & accomplishment felt by all involved.
The evaluation process is always evolving, group discussions are held to ensure the residents and their family’s voices are heard.
As a result we see increased participation and satisfaction and all involved speak of the enjoyment, laughter and fulfilment they feel from being involved in such a great program.
This Community Connect Project features our “Vintage Crafters Group”.
The Vintage Crafters Group decided to enter a wedding dress in the New Zealand Wearable Arts competition.
From April 2015 to April 2016 four residents, a talented volunteer and I drew on our past work and life experiences to create a masterpiece.
Our inspiration was to give new life to an ancient and intricate craft that began in the 17th century.
The art of doily making was passed down through generations and is now almost lost.
We collected doilies from our residents, family, friends and the community and from there we created three dimensional flowers bringing a new life to our 100-year-old doilies.
Now each flower has a story to be told with a powerful reminder of our heritage.
Our complete ensemble is a dress that “Recalls the Past” our heritage.
With French knitted lacing, head piece and veil, brooch bouquet, crocheted covered shoes with pearls and flowers.
“Something Old” was created by layering antique doilies and shaped them into large heirloom flowers to be the feature of our dress.
“Something New” came to life by hand crocheting and embellishing approximately 1000 flowers made from different shades to enhance our creation.
“Something Borrowed” to enhance our head piece one of residents gave a beautiful heirloom brooch that her three sons gave to her as a gift for Mother’s Day when they were very young and living in England.
“Something Blue” is a hand crocheted garter creation with flowers.
Each flower had a five step process: crocheting, gathering, stiffening, hand sewn pearls and glued diamanties.
This activity that began over three years ago has won multiple awards including taking out first prize in the creative arts/wearable art section of the Mt Gravatt Show in July.
This was followed by third place at the EKKA in August.
We were very grateful to have Jannika Johansson model our wedding dress at both competitions. Jannika is the daughter of our wonderful barista Di Johansson.
At the Ekka residents Rita and Airlie were congratulated by Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk and Wishart Councillor Krista Adams on the truly amazing creation.
Back in 2016 we had acknowledgements from the Queen and in 2017 the RNA President David Thomas spoke about the dress at the Fine Arts Cocktail Reception calling it “extraordinary” and “an incredible creation.”
The dress has also been viewed by the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands Mr Manasseh Damukana Sogavare, the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia Sir Peter Cosgrove and Australian actor Sam Neil.