June 22, 2024 4:30 PM

Windows bring fun at Merton Living


Engagement specialist Maurie Voisey-Barlin found a way around covid to continue to engage with those living in residential aged care.

Engagement specialist Maurie Voisey-Barlin was desperately concerned how he could continue to offer creative therapeutic engagement sessions at residential aged care facilities when they locked their doors due to covid.

Five days a week, Maurie would visit different facilities around the Hunter using arts to reduce isolation including Merton Living at Denman.

How on earth was he going to do this if he couldn’t step inside their doors?

Watching children play through a window he realised the answer was right before his eyes.

He adapted the delivery of his program and began interacting with the elders from outside their windows which has affectionately become known as ‘Window Therapy’. 

Maurie started by simply drawing on the windows with a chalk-style white board markers playing tik-tak-toe and then the residents were given markers to respond which, according to Maurie, soon turned to chaos with plenty of playful responses.

“I dress like a very bad entertainer, a bowler hat, vaudeville, comedy style and it just connects,” Maurie said.

Window Therapy has been particularly successful with residents with challenging behaviours, dementia and those who choose to self-isolate.

He said the response of delight was almost immediate.

The program has received media attention and off the back of this, a group of people involved in these types of programs have formed The Outside-In Collective.

Members are engagement specialist colleagues Maurie has worked with over the years, many as their team leader.

 Together they now have 10 Window Therapy sites running, 2 “Glass Canvas” (window viz art) and seven various wellbeing programs around Newcastle, Blue Mountains and Sydney.

“I have no financial interest in the concept being adopted nor do I receive commission for the placement of any engagement specialists I recommend.

“I have shared this idea broadly with the aim to get it out there and keeping our elders connected and engaged with the outside world,” Maurie said.