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Locally made multi-sensory kits designed to help people living with dementia given to Albany Public Library

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Kasey GrattonAlbany Advertiser
Albany Soroptimist Club members Carol Thomas and Rosalind Sawyer with Albany Public Library officer Jen Jones.
Camera IconAlbany Soroptimist Club members Carol Thomas and Rosalind Sawyer with Albany Public Library officer Jen Jones. Credit: Kasey Gratton

Kits designed in Albany to stimulate the senses and spark long-term memories for people living with dementia have been given to the Albany Public Library ahead of World Alzheimer’s Day this month.

Each kit is centred on a theme and includes a DVD or USB drive with a video of an experience, along with other items designed to awaken the long-term memories through touch and smell.

Albany Soroptimist Club member Rosalind Sawyer came up with the idea for the sensory kits, which have been developed over three years by members who filmed the videos and sourced the items with the help of grants from the State Government and the City of Albany.

The multi-sensory kits on display at the Albany Public Library.
Camera IconThe multi-sensory kits on display at the Albany Public Library. Credit: Kasey Gratton

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There are five themed kits designed to immerse the user in the experiences of working in a dairy or a shearing shed, gardening, baking, and visiting the beach.

The kits include items to stimulate the senses, with the shearing shed kit including a piece of raw wool, and the garden one having a container of dynamic lifter to immerse the user in the experience.

Mrs Sawyer said the kits were a “whole sensory experience all in a box” and she was inspired to develop them by her background working as an occupational therapist.

Sensory items inside the gardening-themed kit.
Camera IconSensory items inside the gardening-themed kit. Credit: Kasey Gratton

“Most people with dementia, they lose what’s happening now but their memory for past events is often very good,” she said.

“You’re side-stepping the present, and you’re going back, hopefully, to times when their memory is good, and so then they start talking about what happened then.”

Ahead of World Alzheimer’s Day on September 21, the Albany Soroptimists Club has donated a full set of the kits to the Albany Public Library.

Albany Soroptimist Club member Carol Thomas, Albany Public Library officer Jen Jones and Rosalind Sawyer.
Camera IconAlbany Soroptimist Club member Carol Thomas, Albany Public Library officer Jen Jones and Rosalind Sawyer. Credit: Kasey Gratton

Library officer Jen Jones said the kits would be added to the library’s permanent catalogue and could also be borrowed through local libraries throughout the Great Southern.

“As a public library, we’re always really happy to support people in their endeavours to get more people more enjoyment and living better lives,” she said.

The kits will be available for use in the library and to be borrowed on request from next month.

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