“Bird Box” project provides hours of therapy

A $4 kit is providing hours of vital therapy, and supporting patients to help other patients in their journey to get well.

Tucked away at Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre is the “Mule Shed” Activity Hub, a space for patients to participate in hands-on rehabilitation outside of the hospital environment.

Here, a project building Bird Boxes was hatched, and giving patients the opportunity to use their hands and put together.

The idea then grew wings when Support Services Manager Shane McInnes saw a need for art therapy materials to support patients in the acute Mental Health Ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Instead of fully assembling Bird Boxes, patients turned them into IKEA-style kits, which could be delivered to older patients who have challenging Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD).

“Participating in meaningful activities is an important part of the treatment for both mental health conditions and BPSD,” occupational therapist for TQEH Older Persons Mental Health, Lorraine Ng, said.

“It is difficult to find activities that men find meaningful to do, but since the Bird Boxes flat packs have been available, there has been great improvement in the amount of engagement in activities by men on the ward.

“For people with dementia this activity engagement assists in helping them to feel in control of their lives and reduces agitation, aggression and code blacks.”

The kits provide 4-6 hours of therapy time for patients at Hampstead and TQEH.

“It’s a huge amount of therapy for just $4 for a sheet of board,” Diversional Therapist and Activity Hub Coordinator Brad Wilson said.

“For our rehab patients, it’s really meaningful for them to do something with a sense of purpose behind it.”


Volunteer Coordinator, Carlie Sangster, liaised with volunteers currently working within the Mule Shed Activity Hub to get them on board the project.

Milan Stojsavljevic, a former Brain Injury patient who accessed the Mule Shed during his recovery, and is now volunteering has taken pride in helping current inpatients prepare and make the Bird Box kits.

“It’s a great example of CALHN embracing collaboration and creating partnerships across the health network that benefit patients,” she said.

Tim’s story

Rehabilitation patient Tim Roling was typically one to tinker and do general repairs around the home before suffering brain aneurism at Easter.

After spending three weeks in an induced coma at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, he was transferred to Hampstead for rehabilitation which included hands on therapy in the Mule Shed to help prepare him to transition home.

“The Bird Box has been a great project,” he said.

“The Mule Shed was really important to get used to power tools and understand things again and see how much I remember.

“Staff here have been great. Anything I’ve needed has always been here.”

The initiative has gone full circle with TQEH team planning to make and send baked goodies back to the Hampstead team to say ‘thank you’.

The “Mule Shed” Activity Hub is Supported through the Centre for Creative Health, a charity of The Hospital Research Foundation Group.

Pictured in feature image are former patient and now volunteer Milan Stojsavljevic, patient Tim Roling and Diversional Therapist Brad Wilson