An old man smiling while having a conversation with a woman who is shown from a backside angle

Connecting with First Nations people in care

Sunday 4 July, 2021

Communication flashcards for First Nation peoples who live with dementia to help them retain their connection to CountryIn NAIDOC Week, Dementia Support Australia has released a unique set of culturally appropriate communication cards for use when caring for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person living with dementia. Designed and illustrated by Samantha Campbell, a proud Dagoman woman from Katherine, and co-designed with representatives from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, the 58 cards depict images that have meaning to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person living with dementia.

The inability for a person with dementia to communicate what they want or need can be frustrating for both them and care staff. For an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person with dementia, the communication barrier with those providing care can be greater due to language and cultural differences.

These illustrated cue cards can assist care staff to understand the care needs of the person and create opportunities to build trust and security whilst reducing anxiety. The ability to make connection and engage with the person can also reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.

“The health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is strongly based on their connection to Country, community, family and culture,” says Director of DSA, A/Prof Colm Cunningham.

“These communication cards are the first to be specifically designed to support First Nations people living with dementia and will provide our DSA consultants, aged care staff and families with the ability to communicate in a way that respects both the person and their culture."

The set of 58 illustrated cards are divided into eight categories of People, Activities/Objects, Food/Drinks, Personal care, Health, Feelings, Places, and Animals. Each card has the English word and includes space on the back to write the word in the language of the person.

Carers can select the relevant card and use it to help communicate with the person they are caring for.  Enabling the person to be understood and understand their care is essential for a person’s independence and wellbeing.

The images can help a person to understand and participate in activities such as showering or going for a walk. The cards can also be used to reminisce or to start a conversation.

The colour box set can be ordered as a free hard copy. Digital colour and black and white versions (for people with visual challenges) are also available to download and print.

Click here for print and digital cards