Running a Memory Café – 9 Month Diary Blog

Our memory café is held on the 2ND MONDAY OF THE MONTH 10:30—12:30 at The Hobbs Boat, Bridgwater Road, Lympsham, BS24 0BP. Read on to find out more!

We are so lucky and grateful to be running a successful memory café for people living with dementia in our local area.

On the second Monday of every month, we meet at the HOBBS BOAT INN, in Lympsham. We have people coming from Weston and Burnham on Sea to visit our café, socialise with others and share supportive advice and information. We have been running our café since September 2021 and have thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many wonderful people and seeing them return to our group month after month.

When we started this group in September 2021, it had previously been run by Weston resident, Peter. Peter has dementia himself, and wanted to create a group for people in a similar situation to connect and share experiences with. When COVID hit, the group was forced to close and sadly, many of the individuals that used to attend, passed away during this time. At Home Instead, we already know Peter from previous meetings, which is why he asked if we would be interested in getting the group going for him again after COVID. Peter felt he would prefer the be a guest at the group rather than the director, due to his dementia progressing during lockdown. And that is how our memory café came to be! We have had a lot of fun at our meetings and wanted to share with you our diary log from each of our meet ups. You will see that the first sessions were more about feeling our way and seeing what people wanted from the group. We then started enjoying activities together and having a lot of fun.

Meeting Date: 13th September 2021

Notes:

This was the initial meeting following the 18-month break during COVID. 14 guests attended (all couples). They had all come along as they had heard that the group was restarting and only one couple who had seen the poster. We had a very relaxed meeting where attendees sat around tables and talked together. I introduced two couples who were looking to get to know others in a similar position and they seemed to get on well. I noticed that they went and had lunch together in the pub restaurant afterwards.

Meeting Date: 11th October 2021

Notes:

The meeting followed very much a similar format to the first meeting allowing everyone to simply get to know each other over a coffee and cakes. We were fortunate enough to have a donation from the Draper Dementia fund that covered all the refreshments that everyone had. This was very much appreciated by the group. There were 14 attendees again I would say about half of the group was new people attending. Again, a relaxed meeting with some talk of what everyone would like to do but the general feeling was “just chat together” rather than games or other activities. Towards the end of the meeting there were a few people who agreed that all sitting around one large table and talking together would be interesting and we agreed to try this for the next meeting.

Meeting Date: 8th November 2021

Notes:

11 guests attended this week’s group. 2 were newcomers that hadn’t been before. We arranged the tables in a group so we could try a group discussion session this time. The group discussed hobbies, foods they now like, jobs they did. We discussed what the group would like to get out of these sessions in the future. We found out that a lot of group members had difficulty trying to find out how to arrange a re-assessment of their loved one’s dementia. Once initially assessed, they said they have been left with no further assessments or indication of how things are progressing. The group also discussed what medications they are on for dementia and how this can be reviewed as well. The group mentioned that they had found certain organisations to be very unhelpful lately. It was suggested that they speak to their ‘village agent’ for support, and their GP or Windmill House for a re-assessment or medication review. Some of the group didn’t know what a village agent was or how to contact them, so this was discussed also. We made plans to have a festive themed meeting in December, one of the ladies offered to bring some home-made orange mince pies. We discussed having a scam awareness mini workshop at the session in January as well. There was a lot of talk about how to block unwanted calls or scam calls as this can be distressing for someone with dementia. Looking forward to the next meeting on December 13th.

Meeting Date: 13th December 2021

Notes:

We decided to do a bit of a mini–Christmas Party for this month’s meet up. We had festive music playing, mince pies on all the tables, crackers to pull and we brought along some items from our dementia toolkit we have at the office. We had 10 guests attend this month, 2 were new to the group and had come to see what it was like. Everyone enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and got to walk around a chat to others on different tables. The guests with dementia very much enjoyed doing the jigsaw puzzles we put out. They did them with their family members and as a larger group too. There were lots of smiles and chatter.

Meeting Date: 10th January 2022

Notes:

Due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases, we weren’t sure if many would turn up to this month’s café. But we went ahead with it, as there are no restrictions in place for groups at present. We were surprised to find that 14 people turned up this time! Very nice to see everyone again at the first meeting of the new year. Mike had planned to put on his scam awareness presentation for the group this month, so this went ahead. The group were very interested in it, and it generated a lot of discussion and sharing of experiences.

Meeting Date: 14th February 2022

Notes:

As today is Valentine’s Day, we thought we would have this as the theme for this month’s meet up! We had puzzles, picture books, a craft activity of threading beads onto pipe cleaners to make a hanging heart decoration, and reminiscence conversation cards with questions such as: Where did you get married? How did you meet your partner etc.

12 people came along this time, and we were also joined by Sue Badger, a local village agent. The individuals with dementia really enjoyed the activities and cakes and got stuck in with everything including talking to other members of the group. The partners really enjoyed chatting to each other around the table and there were lots of stories and memories being shared. No one had any problems that they needed help with this time. The group also discussed a singing and dancing group that the Alzheimer’s Society is starting up in our area. 2 of the group members are attending this next week and will let us know how it went.

Meeting Date: 14th March 2022

Notes:

This was our busiest meet up yet! We had a total of 18 guests attend. This month we borrowed a ‘childhood’ themed reminiscence box from Weston Museum to look through. The group really enjoyed looking at the contents of the box, which included old toys, teddy bears, books, photos of memorable items, plus much more. It generated a lot of discussion and people were keen to share stories of what they played with as a child. The group were keen to get another reminiscence box in the future. The partners of the individuals with dementia enjoyed sitting to the side and catching up with each other at time as well.

Meeting Date: 12th April 2022

Notes:

Another busy meet up for the group! It was so nice to see a few new faces as well as the regular ones. We had a few people phone us during the week to say they would like to come along. They really enjoyed meeting other people in the group. This month we hired another reminiscence box from Weston Museum, this one was ‘sweet shop’ themed and we bought some bags of retro sweets to go along with it! They went down well! Our Senior Care Professional, Tessa and Care Professional Maria attended this group and both really enjoyed it. They loved meeting the group members and Maria even recognized one of them as being her clarinet teacher from school! What an amazing coincidence! They enjoyed catching up and reminiscing about the school and clarinet lessons.

Meeting Date: 9th May 2022

Notes:

This month our Managing Director, Mike went along to run the group and he prepared 3 short quizzes. Everyone sat in groups of 4 and were allowed to work on the quiz answers together as a team. The group enjoyed it and it took a long time to get through as it sparked so much discussion and storytelling! The logo round was particularly popular, due to the visual element. Peter (one of the guests who previously ran this group before his dementia progressed), said that he thinks we are doing an amazing job with the group, and he wishes he had planned activities and things to look at when he was running the group. What a lovely compliment.

Our memory café is held on the 2ND MONDAY OF THE MONTH 10:30—12:30 at The Hobbs Boat, Bridgwater Road, Lympsham, BS24 0BP.

It is free to attend. No need to book! Refreshments available.

Please call 01934 526892 for further information.