Creating cards for those challenging conversations

Talking about dementia is a little easier with the Mention Dementia Conversation Cards, developed by the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre at the University of Tasmania.

Each postcard-sized card has words and images designed to invite discussion on dementia. The content has been created by people living with dementia, and the words and images have been chosen by each contributor to reflect their personal experience of the condition.  On the reverse side are talking points about dementia and dementia-friendly communities.

Each set of 34 cards comes with tips and suggestions for use. The cards are available via Kathleen.Doherty@utas.edu.au.

The project is being overseen by Dr Kathleen Doherty and Dr Helen Courtney-Pratt and is one of the projects that received a 2018/19 Community Engagement Program grant as part of the Dementia-Friendly Communities program.

In collaboration with Dementia Australia, various groups assisted with the design of the cards, among them the Younger Onset Group, the Wise Witty Women and the Muttaburras. Eagle Eye Tasmania and the National Automobile Museum of Tasmania also generously provided access to Tasmanian photographs.

For Dr Doherty, the co-design phase was instrumental in delivering cards which are relevant for starting conversations in any community or with any group, and truly reflect the experiences of people living with dementia. 

“Through creating the cards, the experiences and feelings of people living with dementia will be made tangible, enabling the concepts and ideas to be more easily grasped so they can easily be shared and discussed,” she said. 

“This will serve the dual purposes of improving public awareness of living with dementia, but importantly, we hope they will also open the door for discussion about dementia.”

Dr Doherty also said there had been unforeseen benefits from the card program.

“Through this project, opportunities to meet and work with new people have arisen. For example, our photographer is also a neuroscience PhD student undertaking laboratory-based research at the Wicking Centre,” Dr Doherty said. 

“He gained insights into the connection between his research and individual experiences of living with dementia and we hope that by sharing the thoughts and words of people living with dementia through these cards, others will gain insight too.”

For more information about the cards, or other services offered by Wicking, please visit https://www.utas.edu.au/wicking

Are you interested in making your community dementia-friendly? The first step is to become a Dementia Friend. Find out more at dementiafriendly.org.au or call our National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500.