Maria leaves lasting memories at Alzheimers Aust NT 

l-r: Karen, Maria and Louise (Photo courtesy AANT)

Maria Kambouris recently gave a presentation to staff at Alzheimer’s Australia NT (AANT) about the Life Memories Album project she completed as part of her learning practicum for the Bachelor of Welfare Studies at Charles Darwin University (CDU).

Work-based learning enables students to bring together the theory of what they are learning with its practice in the workplace. It also makes a tangible contribution to the organisation. Sue Wood (manager, Support Services AANT) said, “AANT saw the need for a Life Memories Album program but our staff didn’t have time to develop it. Maria has done a wonderful job and we now have a very useful resource to use with clients.”

Here is Maria’s story:

I have just completed my third year, social welfare placement at Alzheimer’s Australia NT (AANT) a community based non-government, not-for-profit organisation which also has national ties. The organisation provides support, information and education to people living with dementia, their families and those working in the dementia care field.

During my five weeks at AANT I developed and implemented a Life Memories Album project for individuals in the early stages of dementia. Life Memories Albums allow individuals to recollect and retell their memories and life experiences. Photographs, memorabilia and other cherished items are displayed in the album to represent their life story. Albums are a great tool for reminiscence; for sharing stories with family and friends and allows family members to cherish and appreciate their loved one.

I developed a comprehensive Policies and Procedures Manual, including a guide to constructing the album, a demonstration album and a brochure for promoting the program. I implemented the Life Memories Album project with two clients and trained a facilitator in administering it. I also met with workers from other organisations to gain their advice and ideas.

The Life Memories Album program is not only very beneficial for both the individual and their families, but also for future care givers such as nursing homes, respite workers and hospitals. The album allows future workers to individualise the person, rather than just be another face in the crowd.  It helps people to know the person’s preferences such as likes and dislikes in food, music and activities. If a client is agitated or frustrated, often reading through the album and looking at photos helps them feel better. Life Memories Albums give back some of person’s strengths, accomplishments and treasured memories and also provides their family with an album that can be passed down through the generations.

AANT was a great experience. I met a lot of people who I otherwise would not have had the chance to work with. I built on skills and developed further knowledge in my area of study. It was amazing to have the chance to listen to people’s life stories because I learnt a lot and appreciated what these people have achieved and how they have got to where they are today. I would definitely jump at the chance if I could do this again, it is one of those little things that make you step back and look at your own life. Truly an experience.

For further information contact:

Linda Cuttriss, coordinator Community Engagement:
Jean Packham, lecturer in social work and welfare studies:
Alzheimers Australia NT: Visit the website: