Laughter and Tears: The Memory Room Project and creating dementia friendly libraries [slides]

ALIA Library

Pisel, Kay

ALIA National 2022 Conference, 16 May - 19 May 2022 Canberra: Diversity

Abstract: Did you know that dementia is the leading cause of death in women in Australia and the second leading cause of death of all Australians? An estimated 250 people are diagnosed with dementia in Australia every day. Dementia Australia's 2021 report, Discrimination and dementia – enough is enough, draws attention to the widespread discrimination endured by people living with dementia and challenges us as individuals, organisations, and communities to shift established attitudes. Why does this matter to library services? It matters because 70% of people with dementia live in our communities and want to continue to access and use their local services. A diagnosis of dementia increases a person's feeling of social isolation. Libraries can create inclusive services and spaces and play a vital role in helping those with dementia to remain included, accepted and connected to their community. Newcastle Libraries are leading the sector in creating a dementia friendly library service. It has taken a four-tiered approach to engaging the dementia community by: 1. Staff training through the Dementia Australia’s Dementia-friendly community program 2. Designing and delivering programs including the Memory Room, the Magic Table and the podcast series, Laughter and Tears: living with dementia 3. Free access to library meeting spaces for organisations such as Dementia Australia to host education and information sessions 4. Auditing library physical spaces to improve access and inclusion Kay Pisel will relate her experience in coordinating Newcastle Libraries' dementia-friendly program including engaging staff in the training process, collaborating with people living with dementia and their families in the program's development; and building relationships with Dementia Australia educators and other service providers in the local area. Program initiatives include: Memory Room Program This program engages an art therapist who facilitates fortnightly face-to-face sessions for community members living with dementia and their families. The therapist draws on photos from the local history collection to enable participants to reflect and participate in conversation, intellectual stimulation, and creativity activity. Magic Table (Tovertafel) Newcastle Libraries have recently purchased a Tovertafel. It is a projector that beams mounted on a ceiling that projects interactive games onto a table. The games are specifically designed for people living with dementia. As the colourful objects respond to hand and arm movements, participants play with the light images reflected on the table. The interactive games stimulate both physical and cognitive activity and encourage social interaction. Laughter and Tears: living with dementia The podcast series was created for Dementia Action Week, 2021. Hosted by ABC broadcaster, Dan Cox, the series invites members of the community living with dementia to share their experiences of love, loss, courage, and hope. It provides current information from medical experts and looks at dementia services available in the Hunter region and beyond. Libraries already provide wonderful and targeted services for our communities. We are very well placed to help shape the narrative around inclusion and access for people living with dementia and help improve their quality of life through our library services.


Deakin, ACT: Australian Library and Information Association