I’ll be honest with you. I was anxious before the first session. We’d been really busy promoting the dementia drop-in café, printing leaflets which were put up in places like supermarkets, GP surgeries and the local pub, and it was publicised in the local press too. But we didn’t know how many people were going to turn up.
However, it was a really good turn-out, and it went really well! We had people come in to enquire about dementia care for loved ones. We had people turn up with a family member living with dementia. They were able to see a working Home in action and the love and care our residents receive from our brilliant staff.
The visitors had a whole range of questions. Some wanted to know how to find out about finances and funding, some asked how they can stimulate someone living with dementia, and how to cope looking after a loved one living with dementia at home. Some were interested in finding out about the Day Care service we have here in High Wycombe. We gave advice, leaflets, handy phone numbers, so people knew where to go in the community for help.
On the day we arranged for a number of cognitive stimulating activities to take place. We had out the interactive ‘magic table’, arts and crafts and building blocks. These activities enable stimulation and interaction which promote a sense of well-being and belonging. And for the second half, our music therapist Izzy performed. She was really good. It was vibrant and interactive, with visitors joining in, singing songs, and playing on the small percussion instruments that Izzy brought along. It was a real social afternoon for everybody.
It was a busy afternoon, but I was lucky because I had a really good team supporting me. Members from Day Care, Physiotherapy and the Activities team were all there to help and speak to visitors, providing invaluable advice and explaining how their important work benefits people with dementia. Our receptionist and housekeeping team were also supportive on the day.
Afterwards, some of our residents told me how much they’d also enjoyed the afternoon too, which was lovely to hear.
That evening, I was invited to speak about the dementia drop-in café on BBC Three Counties Radio’s mental health hour, and it was wonderful to hear what we were doing praised by experts on air.
Going forward, I’d like to try a different theme each month. I also want to incorporate physical activities, which are very good for people living with dementia, such as adaptive Tai Chi, aerobics, balance and movement to music, with the support of our amazing Physiotherapy team.
All in all, the first dementia drop-in café couldn’t have gone better. One woman, who attended with her husband who lives with dementia, told me they will definitely be back in March because she could see how much her husband enjoyed the afternoon. That made me very happy!