Communication cards to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people stay connected as their verbal skills decline have won the Indigenous Communities category in the 2021 Future of Ageing Awards.
The innovative cards, illustrated by proud Dagoman woman Samantha Campbell, have already been warmly embraced with more than 1000 sets distributed since their launch in July.
The cards, produced by Dementia Support Australia (DSA) and funded by the Australian Government, offer a way for a someone with declining speech to communicate respecting both the person and their culture.
Director of HammondCare’s Dementia Centre A/Prof Colm Cunningham was delighted the cards have been recognised with this award.
“These cards are the first of their kind designed to support older people and people from our First Nations with dementia,” he said.
“We listened and learned to what the needs of First Nations people was and produced what have been exceptionally popular cards.”
A/Prof Cunningham said the cards were part of DSA’s commitment to delivering culturally-appropriate services and resources.
Dementia is a serious emerging health issue for First Nations populations who experience the condition at a rate between 3 to 5 times that of the general population with onsite at an earlier age.
Often, the presence of other chronic health conditions and lack of awareness of dementia symptoms means the disease may be overlooked by health workers.
Ms Campbell’s designs help carers and medical staff communicate with the person they are caring for. Activities such showering, needing to see a doctor, or going for a walk are communicated through the cards.
They can also help a person with dementia reminisce or start conversations.
The cards come in a set of 58 and on the back of each card the activity is described in English with space to write the word in the language of the person.
Card packs are available to carers or services on request. Both colour and black-and-white versions can be downloaded by clicking this link.
DSA intends to reach out to recipients of the cards to feedback on possible improvements and additional new designs for future editions.
The DSA team who co-designed the cards with First Nations representatives include Nienke Ballast, Sharron Price, Meghan Heatrick, Sally Grosvenor, Hannah Baird, Arsh Katoch and Tom Gauci.
Inside Ageing Publisher Sean McKeown said the number of nominations for the Future of Ageing Awards was the biggest ever.
“It’s encouraging to see new innovation and positive change making a difference to the lives of ageing Australians, especially for indigenous communities who have often been overlooked,” Mr McKeown said.