Aged care residents from some of Uniting’s NSW facilities recently had their red carpet moment when they attended the premiere of a new homegrown short film, which shares scripted personal stories about living with mental illness as an older person and the importance of community.
The Out of Tuners short film was written by Uniting Annesley resident Christine Tubbs and stars five residents from each facility who played the role of different characters to talk about their mental health experiences and entering aged care.
The short film follows the main character Paul, a formerly homeless older man struggling with his mental health who is provided residence at an aged care facility where he meets other like-minded, music-mad people.
“My motivation was that we all had lives before we came into nursing homes and I think that’s the important thing about people’s stories and sharing them. I wanted to have hope at the end of it,” said Christine on the red carpet on Wednesday.
“The thing, for me, that is most important is the connection with music because it doesn’t matter who you are – immediately, you’re connected with music.”
Fellow actor and resident Georgette Costopoulos said she hadn’t done any acting in a while but since filming the short film, she’d love to take up amateur acting full-time.
Hannah Buckland, Uniting Annesley Case Manager, said the project has really inspired and excited the residents who performed in it.
“The short film was conceived by Christine as a way for the residents to get together to celebrate Mental Health month and a wonderful way for everyone to feel included and recognised for their contributions,” said Hannah.
Uniting Annesley, home to 88 residents, is one of the first residential aged care homes in Australia to be certified as a fully Government-funded aged care homeless facility. The nearby 46-bed Uniting Locke Haven location is currently going through the same accreditation process.
“Annesley and Locke Haven are home to some of the most vulnerable elderly people in our community, and they are often very isolated. Projects like this help to engage them and make them feel included,” Hannah said.
Led by Uniting Exercise Coordinator Portia England, the residents from both homes all auditioned for their role and to be part of the ensemble and visited each other’s homes to rehearse both the speaking and dance scenes.
“For many of them it was their first time being involved in performance arts and in some cases, to actually be part of group activities, so to see it all come together has been amazing and we can’t wait to see the looks on their faces when they see themselves on the big screen,” she said.
Both of the Annesley and Locke Haven homes have joined together to form a Mental Health Hub with the aim being to share education, resources and training for staff and provide residents with opportunities to take part in group projects to keep them engaged and less isolated.
To watch The Out of Tuners, click here.