Dementia Workshops

Hello my name is Juanita Hughes. I am a member of South Brisbane church.

I have served in Korea in total for over four years on several occasions firstly as a student missionary in later as an Adventist volunteer. I have taught English in after-school programs, and to adults. In my final two years in Korea, I also taught in the Adventist school system. I taught conversational English at the junior high school on Sahmyook University campus (Korea’s Adventist University) and in the ground-breaking English immersion classes at the Adventist primary school in Daejeon, a city located in the middle of the country.

I have a strong family history of dementia, and was diagnosed myself in 2019 at the age of 54, but this has not stopped me having a major impact in the community. I have become a very strong and active dementia advocate for Dementia Australia, and five months after my diagnosis was elected to the Dementia Australia Advisory Committee. The members of this committee are active dementia advocates and they are all living with various forms of dementia. They all have different professional or working backgrounds, and I have learned a great deal about many different forms of dementia from working with them.

It has always amazed me how a group of people living with dementia can achieve so much. We all have different areas of strength and weaknesses, innate and due to the disease, but we complement each other and together we are quite a potent group:

  • Early in the Covid 19 pandemic, the group released a series of guides about using ZOOM, as many newbies to this platform because of lockdowns were having issues. They are now available on Dementia Australia’s website.

  • We have been heavily involved in developing the new Dementia Australia ‘A Stronger Voice Together’ an organisation-wide consumer engagement strategy project. Two of us spoke and two were the MCs at the online launch defining codesign and many of us were involved thereafter. They are now applying this consumer engagement strategy throughout the organisation.

  • A year ago we proposed a one-on-one peer-to-peer program support for newly diagnosed people who are struggling with their diagnosis – called Connecting Peers. We had had much hard-earned knowledge about living well with dementia, we had to work this out ourselves, we didn’t want to waste this knowledge and we wanted to make other people’s dementia journey easier. Later support for family care partners has been added. This program has exploded with waiting lists of people wanting support and is now one of the major support programs that Dementia Australia offers.

Since 2020, the Dementia Australia Advisory Committee have been very involved with the planning of the Dementia Action Week which coincides with Big Camp. This year’s theme – Act Now for a Dementia-Friendly Future, coincides well with these workshops. On Thursday September 21st, where will be talking about making communities and churches dementia friendly, is the World Alzheimer's Day. This workshop series fulfils both events themes.

In addition to my advocacy for Dementia Australia, I also run a dementia alliance in western Brisbane where I live. Our alliance runs a fortnightly dementia friendly café for people living with dementia and their family care partners, and spreads the Dementia Friends program wherever we can. Last year I modified the program that I will be presenting and presented it to the local Scout group, adapting it for various age groups for the Scouts, Cubs and Joeys. I have recently presented Dementia Friends to Cr Charles Strunk our local Brisbane City Council representative; and to the electoral office staff for the Premier and the Australian Parliament Speaker of the House – our local state and federal representatives. I have also proposed and written a new honour for Pathfinders – Brain Health and Dementia, which is in the approval process.

These workshops will help you understand people living with dementia by listening  to them talking from their own perspective in the Dementia Friends video which is part of day one, and the theme expanded throughout the program, day:

1.       What is dementia and Becoming a Dementia Friend

2.       How to decrease your risk of dementia and improve brain health

3.       How you can support people living with dementia and their family care partners

4.       Discover how your church and community can become more dementia friendly

Our program last year so impressed the Queensland coordinator of the dementia friendly community program who attended day four, that now we have a Dementia Friendly Church Network established, with members from four different denomination and attendees right around the country after only three online meetings. Do you want to join this flourishing movement of people making our churches more dementia friendly and fulfilling the command given by Jesus to look after the less fortunate in Matthew 25:31 – 46? This workshop will inspire you!