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Byron Shire
January 18, 2022

Painting a clearer picture about dementia

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Volunteer gallery guides participating in the recent Guiding Visitors with Dementia training course. Photo Tweed Shire Council
Volunteer gallery guides participating in the recent Guiding Visitors with Dementia training course. Photo Tweed Shire Council

Volunteer guides and education staff at Tweed Regional Gallery were given a clearer picture about dementia when they participated in a two-day training course recently.

Alzheimers Australia NSW provided the training, which coincided with the gallery’s launch of a new MemoryScape program designed for visitors with dementia and their carers.

The program was designed to give carers and families a thought provoking experience, using art work to stimulate discussion and encourage reminiscences.

The training increased the knowledge of gallery staff and volunteer guides to effectively implement more structured and sustainable dementia programs for the future.

‘Hosting the training course at the gallery also helped establish an effective working partnership between our staff and Alzheimer’s Australia NSW,’ the gallery’s education and audience development officer, Robyn Sweaney, said.

‘The course was also part of the Gallery’s ongoing commitment to encouraging access and inclusion for people with dementia.’

The MemoryScape program included the release of a brochure for visitors to the gallery with dementia and their carers, to encourage conversations on selected artworks in the gallery’s exhibitions.

The brochure, available until 19 April 2015, provides a general guide to how to talk about art and questions on four works from the collection exhibition ‘The art of giving: gifts to the collection by Patrick Corrigan AM’.

‘It has been found that when a person with dementia connects through art, the positive outcomes can be far reaching,’ Ms Sweaney said.

‘The language of art-based programs provides a meaningful way for people living with dementia to express their feelings and increase their sense of self-worth.’

Last month’s training program, which provided participants with comprehensive education resources, was facilitated by Denise Herman from Alzheimers Australia NSW and was complimentary, due to  input from the National Dementia Support Program and the Nelson Meers Foundation.

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