Friday 21 March 2014 by Kathleen Cusack. No comments
Education at the Memorial, Memorial box banter, News

While the Memorial Boxes were initially intended for use in the classroom, more and more aged care facilities are turning to the resource as a therapeutic tool.

Earlier this year, Dr Kylie Smith, a lecturer in nursing history at the University of Wollongong, borrowed a specially designed Memorial Box to present seminars on the history of wartime nursing to aged care residents and staff in the Illawarra region. These presentations have since formed part of Dr Smith’s larger body of work, which aims to record not only the stories of Australian military nurses but also, the technological and health care advances that wartime nursing has brought to modern nursing practice.

During her presentations, Dr Smith used the Memorial Box items, which included, amongst others, a nurse’s cape, crochet jug covers and a female relative’s badge, to encourage aged care residents to revisit their past. As Dr Smith explains, “Reminiscence therapy of this kind is particularly beneficial for people starting to develop dementia because it doesn’t force them to remain in the present. Rather, it uses the past to create meaningful connections.”

Villaggio Sant’ Antonio, an aged care facility in north Canberra, has had similar success with the Memorial Boxes they have loaned. On one occasion, they borrowed a Second World War-themed Memorial Box and the uniforms, equipment and photographs were a hit with the residents. Betty Szuromi, the activities coordinator, said that one of the residents who had served in the Royal Australian Navy would sit for hours with the mannequin they had dressed in the sailor’s uniform, to make sure it was in the right order. Betty says that they are looking forward to collecting another Memorial Box for Anzac Day this year.

If you would like to find out more about borrowing this fantastic resource, please email