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Partnership proves the power of photography

The role of photography in supporting seniors struggling with the transition to aged care has been at the heart of a new research partnership developed between one Queensland University of Technology PhD candidate and a local aged care provider.

Residents at a Queensland aged care home were part of a photography project and exhibition - 'Moments in Moonah' (Source: Churches of Christ)
Residents at a Queensland aged care home were part of a photography project and exhibition - 'Moments in Moonah' (Source: Churches of Christ)

Final year Social Change and Design PhD candidate and professional photographer Tricia King approached aged care provider Churches of Christ to work with their Moonah Park Aged Care residents to gain a better understanding of the role of photography and other artefacts in the lives of older people who have transitioned into aged care, and to show that photographs can help residents wellbeing during and after the move.

As part of the project, Ms King has captured a photo documentary series, looking at both the lived experience of aged care as well as the relationship with photographic keepsakes, which was the focus of a one-night-only exhibition at the Moonah Park facility on 13 February.

The exhibition was titled ‘Moments in Moonah’ and showcased the images Ms King captured, offering an opportunity to residents, their families and members of the public to see the final images.

“Imagery is a reflection of our identity and surrounding oneself with images makes us think about the important experiences of our lives and who we are,” Ms King explains.

“My research explores the fluidity of identity as people make the transition out of home, it looks at what makes a space a home, and how artefacts, such as photographs, contribute to keeping - or perhaps even reforming - a sense of the self.

“This understanding could shape design and protocols within aged care facilities in the future and help influence a better understanding of us as we age.”

Ms King met with participating residents at the exhibition to talk about their photos and tell their stories and reflect on the meanings that have evolved through their lives, saying that the families who attended shared how “touched” they were by the portraits and portrayal of their loved ones.

Director Seniors and Supported Living at Churches of Christ Bryan Mason says they were happy to support Ms King in her research, with the common goal of benefiting current and future residents.

“We are all about the wellbeing of our residents and their families,” Mr Mason says.

“So when Tricia proposed this cutting-edge beneficial research we were very happy to work with her on the project.”

While the exhibition was a one-night-only event at Moonah Park, Churches of Christ say there will be another public presentation at another venue later in the year.

Further research avenues as part of Ms King’s work may involve examining the use of photography with dementia patients.

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