One year on, after many of us experienced changes to our daily routines due to COVID-19, we can look at where we are now, where we have come and celebrate the resilience that we have shown in challenging times.

Residents in our Melbourne Supported Accommodation experienced a challenging 2020. As a silver lining, staff supported residents through lockdowns and restrictions to engage their creativity for self-discovery, connection and to achieve their goals.

Susie is one resident who found comfort in art during last year’s restrictions across Victoria. Susie would pick up pencils and colouring books for daily therapy and mindfulness.

Susie loved colouring, taking every moment she had to use her pencils to create her artworks. However, staff soon realised that her firm grip and pressure of the pencil on her fingers from constant drawing and colouring was causing sores on her fingers. It was also affecting her physical and emotional wellbeing.

Staff spoke with Susie about increasing her physical activity and trying different forms of creative expression.

They purchased watercolour paints and art supplies for Susie and found worksheets that she could cut and paste.

When Susie received the watercolour paints, there was no stopping her. Her creative journey significantly changed, and a prolific artist emerged.

The brush and paint gave Susie softer tools to work with and provided sensory experiences. With a new creative outlet, Susie filled with joy, confidence, gentle challenges, and a purpose for each day. Week to week, watercolours, acrylics, gouache, and inks found a regular place on Susie’s dining room table.

Susie sets up recycled newspaper to protect the table, a watercolour paint palette in front of her, and a clean tub of water sits beside her paper.  There is a neatly folded old rag to dab and dry her brushes when she changes each colour.

While sitting at her dining room table, Susie looks out the window at nature for inspiration for her paintings. Her cat, Jeanettie, often comes over to the table and purrs in support of Susie.

“When we chat with Susie, she talks about her experiences with painting and how much she loves it.  With support, Susie was able to discover her interests, and that has ignited aspirations to take these experiences further and explore the many mediums that she can use to paint,” said Kim, Lifestyle Assistant.

“Sometimes, while she is painting, Susie softly gasps ‘look at that’ in such awe of how the paint flows on the paper, the small rivers of pigment, and the marbling effects alongside the water and brushstrokes that naturally form organic, colourful shapes.”

Susie regularly attends art classes at the Rosanna Fire Station. Lifestyle assistants at her home are now supporting Susie to find exhibitions and competitions to enter her artworks. Staff have also organised professional portfolios of Susie’s work for her, giving Susie a sense of pride and achievement.

Find out more about how the Afford Lifestyle can provide support to discover your interests and get involved in things you truly love.

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