Read below for examples of how the Memory Cafe/ Dementia Support Group Grant has made a difference to groups of people with dementia in Cornwall.
Lostwithiel Memory Cafe
Lostwithiel Memory Café applied for a grant to cover room hire costs, a birthday party for its guests and the fee for Cognitive Stimulation Therapy Practitioners. They have 14 guests (people with dementia), 12 family/friends who attend with them and 6 volunteers. The cafe has been running for 8 years.
The group says:
“Our ‘guests’, the dementia sufferers, benefit from the regular Cognitive Stimulation Therapy provided by a wide range of practitioners, which we can show has proven and significant results. Their lives are enhanced by the opportunity to socialise in a safe and controlled environment and we can see that they always leave happier than when they arrived. The guests are represented on our committee and always have an input on all decisions on how we run the café. They particularly influence the type and content of the practitioners and their wishes are predominant in arranging programmes.
“There is extra benefit from our protocol of separating the guests from their carers as this gives a small independence to the guests and s respite for the carers when they are able to share experiences and information in total confidence. None of this would be possible without the generous grant aid programme.
“Most carers report a tangible improvement in their charges’ mental ability and understanding. Regretfully only temporary but they say that over time there is some permanent improvement which is why they attend regularly.”
Downderry Memory Cafe
Downderry Memory Café has been running for 8 years and have 10 people attending that have dementia, plus 7 family/friends and 6 volunteers. They use the grant to pay for room hire and activities.
Members have commented:
“We come to meet our friends, and such wonderful friends. It is my quiet time. I am not responsible for anything. The Downderry Memory Café has a kindly, welcoming atmosphere thanks to its helpers. We particularly enjoy the table tennis as well as the good company and delicious teas.”
“It gives intellectual stimulation; remembering shared experiences, like two men finding they were in Singapore at the same time. We seem to have an interest in flying.”
The group lead said:
“Members of the local community visit, e.g. a lady with a guitar, a children’s singing group, or the Methodist minister. Four times a year there is a visit to a local hotel or restaurant. The special visitors introduce colour and poetry, a video of birds and the gift of bird feeders, and this opens horizons.”
St Austell Memory Cafe
The St Austell Memory Café has been running for 8 years and has 20 members, with 12 friends or family supporting them and 8 volunteers. The Chairman says:
“The grant provides a regular meeting place where we hold our café. It also provides printed copies of the weekly Sparkle, a reminiscence paper which is greatly appreciated by all and looked forward to, as we use it to engage people prior to the session starting; they also take it away to revisit later. The grant helps us to buy in specialist activity providers and we encourage people to join in and experience something different. The movement to music sessions are very well received, with the whole group taking part in chair exercises, which also helps with being active. We observe how sessions are developing and how much guests are engaged, regularly ask how people found the session, plus any suggestions for the programme or how we might improve the session.
Members and carers say:
“I look forward to it. I meet other people and enjoy all the activities. There is always a happy atmosphere. It makes me realise that other people have problems and difficulties and it is interesting to hear how they cope with it.”
“It gives my wife something to look forward to, a chance to interact with others. She’s a very sociable lady and would otherwise not have this chance.”
“Have met some amazing people, made friends, have a laugh, do some different activities with others that I wouldn’t ordinarily do. I see new faces and always feel a lift. Life is more pleasurable.”
“My wife does look forward to memory café meetings and meeting other people. It stimulates her cognitive action and, as her carer, I also enjoy the social aspect. It jogs her memory, gives my wife a break, something to look forward to every two weeks.”
The Oasis Centre
The Oasis Centre runs a dementia support group that has 16 members, supported by 8 friends/family and 8 volunteers. They use the grant to pay the rent on the room they hire and towards activities.
“As ever, our greatest need is for help with the rent, to cover some of the costs of providing stimulating and interesting activities. Without the security of knowing that our rent can be paid, we wuld not be able to do anything. We can offer activities that help to stimulate our members and that also attract new members. There is also the opportuntity to eat beforehand with other members which encourages socialisation.
“We focus quite a lot on one-to-one work with our members, backing up the group work which we also offer. The entertainment is carefully chosen so that our members can participate, and musical events have been the most popular. Members of the community come in and help out and sometimes visit members at home. Responding to activities linked to the past encourages our members to talk and remember – share these memories. We have offered art therapy this year and some of our less able communicators have been helped to express themselves in this way. We are helping carers to learn activities they can do at home.
“The grant programme works really well and there is always support available at CRCC. What we offer our group depends on our funding each year, so it is a massive bonus to get the rent paid.”