Dementia meeting centres
What is a meeting centre?
The initiative originated in the Netherlands over 20 years ago and has proved very successful, with over 120 such centres being established country-wide and many more meeting centres now developing across the world.
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 approach for people living with dementia and their supporting family members.
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 WHAT'S 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 momentous try
To ensure, like the Red Kite, we soar and fly high!
Written with love for all Meeting Centres everywhere by Yvie George, on completion of a year’s learning at Leominster Meeting Centre.
Who is the Meeting Centre for?
Anyone who has mild to moderate dementia living in the local area. There is no need for a diagnosis. Meeting centres work best when someone living with dementia comes along with a family member, carer or friend. The idea behind a meeting centre is that the whole family needs to adjust to the changes that dementia can bring so we look to develop awareness and skills in people who are closest to the person living with dementia.
What happens at a Meeting Centre?
Meeting centres are really owned by the members who attend. It is their group and everyone is involved in how meeting centres run. Regular planning sessions are held where members can put forward ideas of what they would like to do over the coming month. This can include:
- Friendly and informative discussion groups
- Talks from professionals around dementia specific issues
- Assistance and support with practical, emotional and social issues
- Peer support from members who are living through similar issues
The majority of the session is about warmth, fun, understanding and support.
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:
Involvement from the community is welcomed to breakdown the social stigma of dementia, reduce isolation and loneliness and to promote more inclusive services for people affected by dementia. Volunteers are central to the successful running of our Meeting Centres and we also link in with other groups and organisations including schools and local businesses.
Our first dementia meeting centre in Brecon
In March 2016, more than 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. 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 would also draw on the experience of the two Worcester University supported pilot-centres in Droitwich Spa and Leominster.
This led to the opening of our first dementia meeting centre in Brecon which began in March 2017 and is going from strength to strength. The group meets weekly and 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.
NEW DEMENTIA MEETING CENTRES IN LLANDRINDOD WELLS AND YSTRADGYNLAIS
In early autumn 2018, we opened two more meeting centres in Llandrindod Wells and Ystradgynlais. Both groups are developing really well and have already become a valuable support for local people living with dementia.
The Llandrindod Wells meeting centre meets every other Monday at the Royal British Legion, Tremont Road, LD1 5EB.
Our latest addition is in Newtown where, in October 2019 we opened the Newtown Meeting Centre at the Newtown Evangelical Church, Llanidloes Road, Newtown, SY16 1HL. The group meets every other Tuesday and our current programme is available on our Facebook page.
For more information about joining one of these groups please call us on 01597 822477 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteering at one of our meeting centres
Without the support of volunteers, we could not do what we do. Volunteers are a critical part of our success in running meeting centres.
Volunteers help to create a positive and supportive atmosphere and assist with many aspects of the groups' smooth running. This can range from working alongside a member to make lunch together, welcoming everyone into the group in the morning or helping to run sessions or provide additional support on visits out. In supporting our work we have found that our volunteers gain skills and insights in relation to living well with dementia.
If you are interested in volunteering at a meeting centre, please click here to read our volunteers role description and general guidelines. If you feel that volunteering with us is of interest to you, please email email@example.com or call 01597 822477