Aussie app popular with elderly nuns

An Australian app is helping a group of elderly Catholic nuns connect with long-lost family members.

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Tapestry, a mainly tablet-based app, is like simplified social media for seniors. It lets older people send and receive photos and messages from family members and friends via a minimalistic interface.

And it’s proved extremely popular among the Dominican Sisters of Eastern Australia and the Solomon Islands, says the order’s business manager, Andrew Dunstan.

Many of the congregation’s 93 sisters lost touch with their families when they devoted themselves to the church in the 1950s and 1960s.

Most are now aged in their eighties, and have only in recent years restored contact with their brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces and nephews.

Now, Dunstan says, many are using Tapestry to keep in touch.

Ten nuns in the order trialled the app over several months, including three who had never used a computer before. They exchanged photos and messages with newly-discovered relatives.

Dunstan said the sisters had gone through an “extraordinary transformation” while using the app.

“They not only have felt more included, but the change in their general disposition has been amazing,” he said.

“What we’re finding now is that the sisters don’t purely want to be the recipients of information – they want to start sharing it.

“They started taking their own photos.”

Several have begun using the Tapestry app to share messages and photos with their fellow sisters, who are spread along the east coast from Queensland to Tasmania, Dunstan said.

“It’s changing the way we communicate with our sisters.”

Tapestry founder and CEO Andrew Dowling says the app has also had successful trials in nursing homes.

“The straightforward nature of Tapestry means that seniors who have never even used a computer before can be comfortable using our app,” he said.

The app is free to download but charges $5 a month for unlimited photo and message storage.

An expanded version for nursing homes and other organisations featuring extra administration controls and messaging features costs $9 a month.