See Differently clients from across Adelaide have been cooking up a storm and regaining their confidence in the kitchen, thanks to specially designed classes supported by Beyond Bank.
The monthly cooking classes, hosted by See Differently Occupational Therapists, are designed to give participants tips and strategies for continuing to cook with low vision and learning how assistive technology can help them navigate challenges they may face.
The classes are held at Noarlunga and Smithfield for up to six clients at a time, with participants working together to plan upcoming recipes and tackling a wide range of meals, from a traditional Christmas dinner to dishes reflecting participants’ diverse cultural backgrounds. After preparing the food, the participants enjoy the meal together.
Leonie Case, Lead Occupational Therapist at See Differently, co-ordinates the staff for the Noarlunga classes and has seen the impact the classes can have.
“Food is a central part of our lives, but for people with vision impairment, cooking can instil real fear, whether it’s burning or hurting oneself in the kitchen,” Leonie said.
“Cooking skills can easily disappear as someone loses their sight, and regaining those skills is vital for maintaining independence and learning to live well with low vision.
“Our therapists do an incredible job encouraging participants to try and help them navigate any challenges that might pop up.
“Participants gain confidence from each other—it’s reassuring to know you’re not alone at home battling to prepare the evening meal. Everyone shares experiences, tips, and techniques in a supportive environment.”
Technology is a key ingredient for the cooking class, and often people just need help feeling comfortable using it.
Talking scales, microwaves and cooktops, measuring jugs, and boiler alerts are all part of the toolkit for people with low vision in the kitchen. Cooking class participants have the opportunity to try them before purchasing for home use.
The classes are also an ideal opportunity for See Differently’s therapists to identify other potential challenges that make cooking difficult for participants.
“There’s a lot more to eating at home than just cooking a meal,” Leonie said.
“Getting to the supermarket might be a big challenge for someone with vision loss. So, we connect the client with the right support, like a mobility specialist if they have a white cane or guide dog, or to occupational therapists or adaptive technology specialists to ensure they are confident and have the right vision software to order online.
“Sometimes they tell us they have bad lighting or can’t read their recipe book anymore and need assistive technology to help.
“It might only need a few small tweaks, and then all of a sudden, you can get your confidence back and have the tools you need.”
A recent grant from Beyond Bank allowed See Differently to upgrade the kitchen facilities to specifically cater to the unique needs of the participants.
New ovens, benches, utensils, lighting, and equipment specifically designed for people with low vision have been purchased to ensure all participants can get the most out of the program.
General Manager – Marketing and Fundraising at See Differently, Sally Raphael said it was another example of Beyond Bank’s support of the organisation over many years.
“Beyond Bank provides funds every year from their charity savings accounts and their staff regularly volunteer their time, manning BBQs and quiz night bars to help us raise money,” she said
“They are a very values-focused business, and we love working with them.”
A small group of Beyond Bank employees recently joined the Noarlunga cooking class to prepare a Christmas feast alongside See Differently clients.
“We wanted to get them involved, so each person was placed at a different station with one of our clients,” Sally said.
“They helped the clients with the task, gained a real understanding of how difficult cooking can be for some clients with limited vision, and chatted with them about the impact the classes had in their lives.
“It was wonderful to include them and to demonstrate the real impact of their contribution.”
For more information about corporate giving or volunteering opportunities with See Differently, please contact us on 1300 944 306.