Britain is in a social care crisis. Figures suggest there are now nearly a million people that have dementia in the UK and the number is growing daily. According to Dr. Katy Stubbs from Alzheimer’s Research UK, there simply are not enough care homes.However one new charity is planning a different approach to dementia care – a unique type of cafe. “Encouraging those with dementia to be social and active for longer, can help slow dementia and keep loved ones at home for as long as possible" Emily-Jane Stapley (Founder)
The founder of the Dementia Cafe charity, Emily-Jane is the creator and driving force behind the Dementia Cafe, the first of its kind in the UK. It will help support people with dementia and their loved ones by offering them a free cafe, events, information and activities that stimulate the brain. A safe place where people with dementia can socialize and feel comfortable without judgement.
Emily-Jane explains why she has decided to create the charity and build the Dementia Cafe, “I came up with the idea of the charity that’s a cafe when my mother was first diagnosed with dementia 3 years ago. A neighbour suggested to take Mum to a pop-up dementia cafe meet up, held in a church. At first I had no idea what a “dementia cafe” was! I later learned it was just a space where people gathered to make friends and drink tea.
A little thing like that changed my Mother’s life. I can’t lay claim to the idea! It was hosted by the Alzheimer’s Society.
I saw the challenges with the pop-up cafes. Being held in lofty spaces with high ceilings such as old churches, can create an echo which can make it difficult to hear one another. An already challenging practice for someone with dementia, blocking out background conversation makes concentrating almost impossible. Spaces generally are not purpose built for dementia, meaning the pop-up cafes are often cancelled when patrons of the space need ‘their’ facility back. Ever so confusing if you are living with dementia and generally go every week.”
'All too often those with dementia and loved ones slip away from society and are confined to their homes, until the person caring can no longer cope'
This unique cafe is expected to be built in 2017 or 2018 according to Michel Zimmermann, the treasurer of the charity. Its location is going to be in South East London. The founder of the Dementia Cafe says it is going to be the first cafe that will have animal therapy and other interesting activities for people with dementia such as yoga. The benefits of which have been well proven.
The Dementia Cafe is not only going to be for people with dementia but also for their loved ones and carers. Emily-Jane explains: “With a purpose built space, a place to relax and re-charge, all those facing dementia can unwind and prepare for another week. All too often those with dementia and their loved ones slip away from society and are confined to their homes, until the person caring can no longer cope.”
The treasurer of the charity Mr. Zimmermann reveals that the reason he decided to get involved is because his grandmother has dementia and he wanted to raise awareness and contribute. “We want to build the cafe as soon as possible so that people can enjoy it, we organized fundraising through different events such as fun-runs, to collect money.” Says Mr. Zimmermann. “We need approximately £100,000 to build and ultimately, the only way to do that is by applying for grants.”
Dementia pop-up cafes or memory cafes exist in a few areas in London, but more as a service not as a purpose built cafe. People with dementia can meet up once or twice a month and it is usually held in different locations and venues.
'There’s space for all of us, memory cafes, pop-up meetings and the rise of the Dementia Cafe. We can all offer something to those who would otherwise be left lonely or overwhelmed at home'
The founder of the Dementia Cafe charity talks about the first experience of trying to find a dementia meet-up for her mother who has dementia. “There are many challenges to face when planning to take mum out. I had to drive for 5 miles in order to take my mother to a pop-up dementia cafe, because there wasn’t a facility nearby where she lived, we went to one in Clacton-on-sea, it was a pop up cafe run by the Alzheimer’s Society inside a church. Mum was excited to go but when we got there, she, like many others couldn’t engage in conversation because she couldn’t hear what people were saying. She just sat back and watched everybody, with a rather confused look.
I think that these cafes are a great idea but I believe that a purpose built space can really solve some of the obstacles in pop-up settings. There’s space for all of us, memory cafes, pop-up meetings and the rise of the Dementia Cafe. We can all offer something to those who would otherwise be left lonely or overwhelmed at home.
People with dementia often feel isolated, as everyday tasks become more difficult over time, they start to go out and socialize less. The Dementia Cafe charity is dedicated to changing this. While no cure for dementia currently exists, the founder explains: “We continue to spread the word that those with terminal brain diseases need a sanctuary. We’re not scientists, or politicians, we can’t offer miracle medicine or change social policy but we make a great cup of tea and can give you one to one time, information and activities that the whole family can get involved in. We respect whole heartedly what the Alzheimer’s Society do and work closely with Alzheimer’s Research UK, we sit between the large nationals and hope to open our cafe as a home away from home. Our ethos, in the words of my Mother Joan: “Mi Casa Es Su Casa.””
The Dementia Cafe charity has gained a tremendous following, with more than 10,000 people supporting them on social media. The Dementia Cafe charity even has a stall at Greenwich Market, with all proceeds going to the charity.
The future goal for the organisation is to grow from regional to national and lead the way, as pioneers in dementia care. Watch this space, the Dementia Cafe could very well be coming to a town near you!
Visit the Dementia Cafe website to find out about their plans or support their work