Bentley Hospital’s “Damper Club” highlights the fun and therapeutic benefits of kneading

Photo of Damper Club
Bentley Hospital Occupational Therapist Jaya Saraswati, centre, with from left to right, the hospital’s Aboriginal Health Liaison Officer, Social Work, Gina Sewter, patient Marie Gordon from Billana Community and Angela Lee, from Balgo, who had a surprise visit from her daughter Andrea for the damper cook-off
March 20, 2019

At Bentley Hospital – which includes a catchment area of some of the most diverse population groups in Western Australia - the staff’s motto is “amazing care” and that is exactly what they delivered last week when they initiated a “Damper Club”.

“We had a number of Aboriginal ladies from the North West of the State in the hospital at the same time who had all experienced a stroke and were understandably missing home,” Bentley Hospital Occupational Therapist Jaya Saraswati said.

“They mentioned that they traditionally made damper either daily or weekly when back at home. We thought it would be a good idea to try and make them feel as at home as possible and make damper on the ward.

“Patients receiving therapy within a meaningful activity or what we call “occupation” is what occupational therapy is all about."

“Kneading – as is involved when making damper – happens to be a great activity for hand and arm therapy for sensory motor retraining. The added bonus is that it is a meaningful activity which is also very person-centred as it reminds them of their typical daily routine.”

As it happened, each of the ladies had their own special recipe so the scene was set for a MasterChef inspired cooking challenge!

Jaya said the ladies had a great morning of laughing and exchanging “secret” recipe ideas while listening to Aboriginal music and importantly, increasing their fine motor-skills and hand and arm strength.

“It really was nice to be able to provide a culturally appropriate activity and bring some sense of home to the ladies,” she said.

“We also have with us at the moment a very proud Italian lady, who the Aboriginal ladies invited to join their damper club and next week, she is going to reciprocate and show them how she make traditional pasta.

“As an Occupational Therapist, it really is lovely to be able to watch the ladies enjoy their therapy in a fun way while also aligned to the National Clinical Guidelines for Stroke Management.

“Therapy does not have to be boring and generic and that is something Occupational Therapy are keen to promote at Bentley Hospital.”