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A space to call one's own ... Laura Weir (left) with John Thompson, Lily Vesty and Don Chalmers (right) stand together in the space where a shed could be built for the use of mechanically minded residents at Oamaru's Iona Home and Hospital.

All Don Chalmers wants is a shed to tinker in with friends and family.

Mr Chalmers (77), a retired engineer – and former paper boy for the Oamaru Mail – lives at Oamaru’s Iona rest-home.He and fellow resident John Thompson (77), of Temuka, want a space to be created at Iona for the mechanically minded residents.They want to get back to being average blokes in a shed, talking about the absurdity of national politics, the performance of sports teams, or how they did not need to read instructions to build something.With the help of two occupational therapy students, Oamaru woman Laura Weir (21) and Hawke’s Bay woman Lily Vesty (20), from the Otago Polytechnic School of Occupational Therapy, that goal is within reach.The two students have got permission for a shed to be created for residents on site at the home, and now all they need is the public to come to the party to help build the shed and supply resources.Ms Vesty said the idea behind the shed came from the residents themselves.Ms Weir said the construction of a shed space would be part of a holistic care approach for residents – giving them a space they enjoyed.”They want to feel at home and want an environment where they feel relaxed,” Ms Weir said.”It will keep them doing things and keep their minds active,” Ms Weir said.
Ms Vesty said the students looked at the shed from an occupational therapy perspective, and pictured a recreational space that could be enjoyed by the residents.”A nice big open shed where people can sit inside and reminisce – it’s that sensory stimulation.”It’s a safe place and a place where they can engage in an occupation.”