Queensland State Archives Memory Lounge creates dementia-friendly environment

Queensland State Archives (QSA) recently opened a new dementia-friendly space, with the launch of an installation known as The Memory Lounge. 

The initiative came off the back of the Brisbane Dementia Awareness Month roadshow event in September, which was attended by QSA staff, who then returned to work and recommended that QSA took steps to become a dementia-friendly organisation. This was achieved just days before the opening of The Memory Lounge.

The Memory Lounge has been designed using Dementia Australia guidelines when choosing the colours, textures and custom-made furniture that make up the space, which is accessible to people living with dementia.

The objectives included providing a comfy and welcoming environment to explore the QSA collection; developing a flexible space for use by groups with multiple needs; and providing opportunities to establish partnerships with care facilities that would benefit from using the installation space for their own independent visits.

The interior design and furnishings selected addressed two briefs – the first was to create an environment that is dementia-friendly, and the second was to take design cues from mid-century interiors which feature blocks of pop colours, simple textures, and strong dark shades in primary hues. 

To adhere to a dementia-friendly environment, distinct colours are used for differentiation, patterns are limited, and reflective surfaces are avoided. The furniture selected features high backs, arms rests and comfortable seating positions.

Additional accessories bring the design of the installation together, such as floor lamps, artificial plants, and photo albums containing facsimiles of QSA records. The room invokes memories of times past, and offers a safe and welcoming environment for the public, including those living with dementia.

Mike Summerell, Queensland State Archivist, said the lounge paves the way for creating access to all community members, including people living with dementia. 

“We recognise the need to be part of a dementia-friendly community, and The Memory Lounge is one way we are hoping to achieve this. We have also implemented staff training on dementia awareness,” Mr Summerell said.

“A lot of Queenslanders don’t realise the QSA is open to the public, and that people can come in and search through our records.

“The Memory Lounge allows all visitors to relax and browse through photo albums of images from the archives, invoking memories of the State’s history,” said Mr Summerell.

The Queensland State Archives is seeking to establish partnerships with care facilities and other providers that can benefit from using The Memory Lounge for their own independent visits from 2019.