For Pat, who is living with dementia, a trip to her local Community Café is something to look forward to and a place where she can sit, talk and have a laugh.
“The café has made a lot of difference to me. I feel as though I can talk to just about anyone now and I just talk about anything,” Pat said.
Social isolation remains a major issue for people following a diagnosis of dementia, which is why Dementia Australia has launched a new, free resource to help people with dementia, their families and carers, remain socially connected.
The Community Cafe Toolkit: Your manual and tools for establishing a café for people living with dementia is a step-by-step guide, that has been designed to help community groups, organisations, service providers or individuals set-up and run a local café social group for people living with dementia.
Dementia Australia National CEO Carol Bennett said “we hear time and again from our consumers that after a diagnosis of dementia, they often lose contact with friends or family members.”
“Usually this is because people don’t understand enough about dementia and no longer know how to relate to the person. This ‘shrinkage’ of their social circle can be immensely stressful at what is an already difficult time.”
Community Cafes provide an informal and social environment where people feel welcomed and accepted. They provide the opportunity for people with dementia and their partners to make new friends while also learning about support services in their area.
Community Cafes also create opportunities for people to connect with others who understand what they are going through, and to feel much more socially supported.
This has been the experience of Chris and Alan Jones, who have been attending a dementia-specific Community Café on the Central Coast of NSW for the past two years.
“The community café in our area has been a great support to both of us in so many ways. This is not just because of the special bond we have formed with people in the same boat as us, but also, because of the wonderful help we have received from our Younger Onset Dementia Key Worker, Justine, who also attends,” she said.
The café model can be adapted for specific groups, such as people with younger onset dementia, and rural or urban locations and is designed to be a safe and welcoming social get-together where people with dementia can continue to be connected and engaged and address the common feelings of isolation that are too often experienced as a result of a diagnosis of dementia.
Dementia Australia is working to tackle the stigma and isolation which has been identified as a priority by people living with dementia and their carers. We have supported a number of Dementia Friendly Community pilot projects and other work to promote social inclusion and support.
The toolkit was developed by Dementia Australia NSW and made possible through the Dementia Australia National Quality Dementia Care Initiative, funded by the Australian Government as part of Dementia Australia’s national project, Developing Innovative Methods to Respond to Neurodegenerative Disease. It was based on the success of local Dementia Community Cafes which have been running in parts of Australia since 2002.
The tool kit contains a manual with instructions on how to establish and run a community café in your region; and tools in the form of checklists, templates and resources to help you in getting started and to assist in the day-to-day running of your café.
Find out more or download a copy of the toolkit.