/ Aged Care

Mind The Mushroom - An Initiative From Community Home Australia

Communities that take action to become dementia-friendly have less fear and a greater understanding of dementia.

Community Home Australia has a mission to transform how aged care and disability support services are delivered by providing opportunities for healthy and purposeful living and care 24/7 in your local community.

Community Home Australia's new campaign, Mind The Mushroom, aims to bring awareness to people living with younger onset dementia. We chatted to Rhiannon Toohey to learn more about it.

So what is Mind The Mushroom?

All members of the Canberra community have the chance to find and mind a giant Mushroom out in the wild! By scanning the QR code on the stem, you will be taken to the Mind The Mushroom Facebook group. From there, you can then post a photo of where you found the mushroom before hiding it in a new spot for someone else to mind and find. We have orchestrated this daring initiative to bring awareness to people living with younger onset dementia within the ACT and Batemans Bay and everyone can join in!

How did you come up with the idea?

The inspiration for this campaign came from our Community Inclusion Garden located at the front of our Community Home Australia day center, Club Kalina, in Tuggeranong. Floriade have donated 800 bulbs and annuals to us, the theme for this year being ‘wonderland’. We painted and planted 9 different sized mushrooms in our garden to transforming it into a wonderland. Soon after, we had three of our large mushrooms stolen. Upon discovering this, we hastily posted on the Community Home Australia’s Facebook page asking the community to assist in their safe return. By the end of the day, we were happily reunited with our mushrooms but not before hearing about their fantastic travels to Pine Island. This got us thinking—if Canberrans loved our mushrooms so much, we would give the people what they wanted!

How has the community responded?

ACT Policing, She Shapes History, Meridian, Red Shield, and the Vikings rugby team have joined in to Mind The Mushroom, showing their support for those in our community living with younger onset dementia. By rallying the Canberra community to join in the search, we are dismantling the stigma that people with younger onset dementia should be hidden away from the community in nursing homes which they rarely leave.

Spreading this message through the Mushroom movement allows for the existence of people living with younger onset dementia to become more normalised within our community. The Mind The Mushroom Facebook page and website also includes a list of support services and resources for Dementia. This allows easy access to information about dementia and dementia support services which may not have been known of otherwise.

What have you learnt through the project?

Through orchestrating this campaign, I have personally learnt that I have my own unconscious biases against other community groups. When considering which groups to ask to participate in the mushroom hunt, I thought, “not that group, they wouldn’t be interested in the idea”. But why?

This project is aimed at destigmatising younger onset dementia, but it has now evolved to destigmatise other groups in the community through them coming together to reach a common goal.

We are creating an opportunity for open dialogue. So, not only will the voices of people living with younger onset dementia grow louder as we continue to empower and engage with our community, but other marginalised community groups will also be seen and heard.

What next?

I recently created a website for Mind The Mushroom, where people can buy their very own mushy buddy! All proceeds from this fundraiser go towards Community Home Australia to help in supporting people living with younger onset dementia.

Otherwise, to show your support for those living with younger onset dementia and our community, become part of our Facebook group and help to destigmatise and spread awareness for younger onset dementia.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/215273058042330

Website: https://roadrunner-lavender-2ax5.squarespace.com/?fbclid=IwAR2SMnM1uxyKs3oAT7lxiOuECVXw4VUWM2oIMO8a1__IpJPr1u1N8WHJbzs

To make a referral, please visit https://www.careseekers.com.au/referrals

To find disability support services, please visit www.careseekers.com.au/services/disability-support-workers

To find aged care services, please visit www.careseekers.com.au/services/aged-care-workers

To become a care or support worker, please visit www.careseekers.com.au/carer