Dementia Meeting Centres
Meeting Centres and Friendship Groups
In March 2016, over 50 people gathered at Theatr Brycheiniog in Brecon to take part in a Pioneer workshop, led by Professor Dawn Brooker, Association of Dementia Studies, Worcester University, which explored the evidence, theory and practice of establishing Dementia Meeting Centres.
The initiative originated in the Netherlands over 10 years ago and has proved very successful, with over 100 such Centres being established Country -wide.
What is a Meeting Centre?
Meeting Centres are a great low-cost community-based way of supporting people living with dementia and their families. They provide a place where people are supported to understand and adapt to living with dementia. Meeting Centres offer a person-centred, combined approach for people living with dementia and their supporting family members.
Who is the Meeting Centre for?
Anyone who has mild to moderate dementia living in the local area.
What happens at a Meeting Centre?
A dedicated team of staff and volunteers provides the support programme.
People take part in recreational and social activities, such as singing, reminiscence, music, dance, sport, creative expression and outings.
All sessions are built around the interests and hobbies of the people who attend.
Carers and families are fully involved in the support programme alongside the person living with dementia including:
• Friendly and informative discussion groups
• Assistance and support with practical, emotional and social issues
• Regular one-to-one advice and support
Involvement from the community is welcomed to breakdown the social stigma of dementia, reduce isolation and loneliness and promote more inclusive services for people affected by dementia. Community involvement includes:
• Monthly information sessions
• Exciting volunteering opportunities
• Ideas to make your organisation dementia-friendly
In Dementia Awareness week 2016, a public meeting was held to explore the potential for establishing Meeting Centre in Brecon. This attracted representatives from a wide range of organisations and agencies, as well as those living with dementia. The interest and enthusiasm led to the development of a Meeting Centre Initiative Group which has been meeting regularly since the Summer.
Drawing on the experience of the two Worcester University supported pilot-Centres in Droitwich Spa and Leominster.
Our first Dementia Meeting Centre – The Brecon Friendship Circle
Our first DMC began in March 2017 and is going from strength to strength. We meet weekly and the Friendship Circle encourages well-being and quality of life, particularly for those living with dementia and memory loss who may be isolated in the community. The Friendship Circle meets at Kensington Church Hall, Brecon, at 11am to 3pm on a Thursday. For an opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones as well as to get advice and support, why not come along and join us! A light lunch will be provided. Call us on 01597 821166 for further details.
And this is just the beginning! Over the coming year Dementia Matters in Powys has the capacity to support, advise, and help to resource any local village or town that wants to develop a meeting centre/ friendship circle. Each being enabled to grow in its own unique way.
We will also continue to offer support to all existing initiatives as they develop or maintain what they offer already. The Hay Day café in Cusop and the Clyro and Llyswen friendship groups are wonderful examples of what a community can achieve when a group of like-minded people come together to support the needs of those who are living with dementia and socially isolated in their community. We especially recognise the need to share ideas and good practice, to connect and give energy to all those who are sometimes volunteering in isolation or just feel they need a boost of interest in what they are busy doing.
Any new towns or villages wanting to fully embrace the “adaption to change model” that underpins all aspects of the piloted Meeting Centres in the UK will be fully supported to do so. From gathering enough concentrated support and energy to costing, setting up, running and facilitating a local resource.
So far FOUR towns or villages are beginning to look at developing their own Meeting Centre or friendship group, two in the north and two in the south of Powys.
Here is a poem, which gives you a flavour of what makes a good Meeting Centre.
That makes a meeting centre
So the eye of the visitor who walks through the door
Sees no segregation
For that is our score
Firstly it’s everyone’s unique presence and cheer,
The fun the support the listening ear
The ingredients you will need:
One lovely building
That’s happy and light
A view from the window
A few trees in sight
A genuine welcome, for each who arrives
From someone who is interested
In everyone’s lives
The warmth of a circle and music that plays,
In the background to varied and interesting days
Links with other places
That offer us more
For a meeting centre works
Both sides of its door
What to leave out?
Now here are the things we want to leave out;
Like cliques in the kitchen
And the dinner served out
Share and pass around food together
Have all kinds of ideas for all kinds of weather
No uniforms, no labels, or separate spaces, then
Equality shows in everyone’s faces
Ask everyone regularly
What they love to do
And also remember to try something new
A facilitator is needed
To juggle and balance
For keeping things fair
Takes experience and talents
Use as a guild the list of WHATS ON
Be it massage, discussion
Movement or song
Ideas of the members
Need to be foremost
But inclusion of all
Is what you will toast
And just like some friends
Who are out on the lash
Toss contributions, for food
Through a kitty of cash
Combine imagination information
And skills enjoyed in the past
Add chat and meaning
Think of a fun task
Timings and Temperature,
Keep to the openness
Of a place to drop in
That is warm and inviting
And welcomes all Kin
This poem is meant as a
To ensure, like the Red Kite,
We soar and fly high!
Written for ALL MEETING EVERYWHERE
by Yvie George, witten with love, on completion of a year’s learning at Leominster Meeting Centre.
If you wish to join a Meeting Centre of Friendship Group near to where you live OR if you want to help develop one, please contact us on 01597 821166.