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‘Designing for Dignity’ Dementia Symposium

More than 250 people attended the recent Dementia Symposium hosted by Alzheimer’s WA, which featured some of Western Australia’s leading dementia experts and community advocates discussing issues facing people living with dementia, their families and carers.

Held at the Perth Convention Centre, the 8th annual symposium commenced with a beautiful Welcome to Country by Ballardong Whadjuk Yorga woman Vivienne Hansen, followed by Alzheimer’s WA Chief Executive Officer Ella Dachs officially opening the event. Ms Dachs spoke about the need for reducing the stigma and misunderstanding about dementia in our communities and the importance of human rights as the foundation for strong communities where we can all contribute and feel included.

Community advocate James Duquemin gave a moving speech about his experience with his wife’s dementia journey, while panelists Dr Margaret Sealey, Dr Meredith Gresham, Prof Samar Aoun (recently named WA Australian of the Year) and Sabena Lund, led by Alzheimer’s WA Chair Prof Warren Harding, provided insight into collaborative approaches to dementia care.

‘Designing dignifying places and spaces’ with Professor Richard Fleming, and the ‘Creating dementia enabling environments’ panel, featuring Gary Batt, Kirsty Bennett and Professor Fleming, led by Professor Harding, kept with the symposium’s theme ‘Designing for Dignity’: Creating Capable and Compassionate Communities’. 

Alzheimer’s WA also launched the ‘Adapting Your Home’ book, a useful guide to creating a safe living environment for people living with dementia and enabling them to live longer and more independently in their home. The book is available for purchase by contacting Alzheimer’s WA.  

The afternoon’s program saw Rosyln Snyder, from WISDOM in Your Life address culturally appropriate dementia care; a panel of advocates discussed living with ‘Dementia and dignity’, and Prof Loretta Baldassar spoke about ‘Ageing futures’. 

A highlight of the symposium was a performance by the ‘Friends in Harmony Choir’ – Perth’s only choir for people living with dementia – that enlivened the audience, and Hayley Antipas from Attuned Health Group spoke about the benefits of music therapy.

The symposium also provided a perfect opportunity to congratulate our Dementia Change Champion of the Year, Rebecca Evenis, who works at Narrogin Cottage Homes. Run by Alzheimer’s WA, this program supports organisations develop and maintain a skilled workforce to better support the needs of people living with dementia.

Alzheimer’s WA would like to thank and acknowledge the wonderful emcee on the day Christina Morrissy, our dementia experts and advocates who gave their time and insights, and the people in our sector who are passionate about supporting people in our community living with dementia.

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