Cooking connections

There’s something in the air at Bupa Kempsey, drawing residents out of their rooms and into the kitchen. 

The scent of old fashioned recipes, passed down through generations, wafts out from the kitchen of the Bupa Belly Cafe at Bupa Kempsey aged care home. 

“The ladies all like to sit around and share their old fashioned recipes,” says Donna Farrer, General Manager at Bupa Kempsey. “They chat and they sing; it’s just wonderful.”

Diane Wilson, a nursing assistant at the home and former cafe owner, started the cooking program with residents last year.
It wasn’t long before it became an important social occasion at Bupa Kempsey.

“We sometimes have about 20 or 30 people sitting around, and normally about five or six helping,” says Diane. “We try to rotate the residents who are helping so whoever initiated the recipe or wanted to make the recipe is always included.” 

“We have a gentleman who has never, ever had to cook in his life. We have now named a slice after him, the ‘Captain’s Slice’ because he wants to make it every day,” says Diane.

“It’s hard sometimes for him to give up his chair,” jokes Diane. “He’s a master chef now!” 

86-year-old resident, Dulcie Walmsley cooked for her family all her life. Now she bakes for enjoyment.

“We usually have a cup of tea afterwards and everyone joins in. It becomes an occasion,” says Dulcie. “I think it’s a reminder of home and family get-togethers.”
bupa residents gardening
Residents don’t just cook their own food; they grow it, in an impressive vegetable garden.

“’Farm to plate’ we’re calling it,” says Donna.

Diane says when seasonal produce is ready, it’s harvested and residents get creative about how to use it.

“We’ve pickled beetroot, we make tabouli. They love our sweet potato and spinach pie and we try to use as many of our fresh herbs as possible,” says Diane.

“We’ve done fresh juices with seasonal fruit and fruit cocktails - it’s really nice.”
award winning jams at bupa home
And it seems they’re onto a winning recipe. The residents’ mango chutney won first prize at the 2015 Kempsey Show.

“They were very excited, we got a certificate, our name got in the paper and they were all thrilled to see that their chutney had won and they had so much fun making it,” Diane says.

“The best part though was watching them fight over the seeds and sucking them when they were making the chutney,” says Diane.

Diane, who comes in on her day off to run the program, says the cafe has brought the community together.

“To me it’s the companionship but it’s also about smells evoking memories,” says Diane. “All of our residents would have watched their mum make chutney and pickles or done it themselves.”

“When we have things cooking you can smell everything all through our home and people are salivating and saying ‘That smells good. What is it?’ and ‘Can I have a taste?’"

“People who stay in their room and don’t normally get involved in activities, will come out and become involved,” she says. “The smells draw them out and then we can get them mixing or doing something, even if it’s just watching.”

The residents’ recipes have been collated into a cookbook. Family members are also encouraged to share their favourite recipes for everyone to enjoy together.

Bupa Aged Care

Bupa Aged Care, offers a full range of care including respite, residential and specialised dementia care.

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