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Gertrude Abbott Art Show a Great Success

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There is a bull and an angel; mixed media and watercolours; landscapes and still life… all different but one thing in common… they are all artworks created by the residents of Catholic Healthcare’s Gertrude Abbott Aged Care and The Sister Anne Court in Surry Hills.

Many of the residents don’t consider themselves artists, some might even say they are “terrible” at painting. But the weekly Art Based Cognitive therapy (ABCT) sessions held at Gertrude Abbott and The Sister Anne Court have become so popular almost all residents are participating in and enjoying the physical, visual, emotional, mental and social benefits of creating their own works of art.

The results of these sessions were recently on display at Catholic Healthcare’s first-ever Inner Sydney residential art exhibition and auction. Artworks were sold to the highest bidder, raising funds for a much-needed refurbishment of Gertrude Abbott’s rooftop area.

Therapist Viktoria Maksymova has been running ABCT sessions at Gertrude Abbott since 2013.

“Art improves an older person’s well-being, slowing down cognitive decline,” says Viktoria. “When you create an artwork you simultaneously engage almost all parts of your brain. It’s like an orchestra where memories, emotions, motor and visual processes all work together to create something wonderful, something new to keep your mind stronger for longer. The ABCT sessions are enjoyable for residents while also contributing to a healthy brain and cognitive functioning. In healthy ageing they can help delay the onset of dementia.”

Ruth Wernick, Residential Manager of Gertrude Abbott and The Sister Anne Court can see the benefits in the disposition of the residents and increased friendships.

“Over the years the sessions have taken on a very social and interactive feel,” says Ruth. “Residents reminisce and share memories, and they sing together. They sing with Viktoria, often different operas such as Figaro or Carmen. Family members have also joined in and it is a great way to spend time with a loved one who has decreased cognition.

“When it was suggested we have an art exhibition to show off their work, all residents jumped at the chance and spent many hours creating the works on display. As their confidence has grown, we don’t hear ‘I can’t do it’ anymore. They all feel like artists.”

Thank you to all the residents and families of Gertrude Abbott Aged Care and The Sister Anne Court for participating and making the amazing pieces of artwork.

About Art Based Cognitive Therapy

Art–Based Cognitive Therapy (ABCT) is a multi-sensory intervention for seniors and individuals with neurodegenerative diseases that enhances well-being and cognitive functioning and delays cognitive decline.

The ABCT program, informed by current scientific research, has been designed by Viktoria Maksymova over many years of experience working with aging and vulnerable populations. The program is especially suitable as a group intervention for seniors and residents of aged care facilities. For more information email