New funding around Meeting Centres – what does it actually mean?

Here at the Association for Dementia Studies, we’ve recently been awarded a National Lottery grant from the Big Lottery Fund to help establish new Meeting Centres in different parts of the UK. To help you understand what this actually means in practice, we’ve put together some information about the project.

First off, what is a Meeting Centre?

A Meeting Centre is a local resource, operating out of ordinary community buildings, that offers ongoing warm and friendly expert support to people and families affected by dementia. At the heart of the Meeting Centre is a social club where people meet to have fun, talk to others and get help that focusses on individual needs. Meeting Centres are based on sound research evidence on what helps people to cope well in adjusting to living with the symptoms and changes brought about by dementia.

What goes on there?

The social club usually meets three days a week, supporting 15-20 members per day. A team of trained staff and volunteers provide an enjoyable and flexible programme of activities for both the person with dementia and their family carers. All activities are designed to help people adapt to the challenges that living with dementia can bring. This involves a chance to get together socially, be creative, get active, and share lunch. Family carers get assistance with practical and emotional issues, as well as being able to contribute to social club activities. Some family members use the opportunity to have a break from their caring role. Couples consulting sessions, social activities and excursions also help people to enjoy life together.

Ok, that sounds great. I think I’d like to set up a Meeting Centre in my town. Can I get funding from you?

The funding we’ve received isn’t to fund other Meeting Centres directly, it’s to enable us to provide support, guidance and advice to people like you, who are thinking about developing your own Meeting Centre. We’ll also be evaluating some parts of the project to gain a greater understanding of how Meeting Centres operate over time in different communities and situations.

What sort of support will you be offering?

We’ll be offering a wide range of support including:

  • Workshops to provide further information to people interested in starting their own Meeting Centre
  • A guidebook on how to set up and run a Meeting Centre following a tried and tested approach
  • Sharing learning from other Meeting Centres, including potential opportunities to visit existing Meeting Centres and see them in practice
  • Establishing an online community of practice where people involved in Meeting Centres can share ideas and support each other
  • Developing and delivering training for Meeting Centre staff members
  • Developing self-evaluation tools to help you evaluate the benefits and cost-effectiveness of Meeting Centres for people with dementia, their carers, and the wider community. This will be vital for your own understanding of your Meeting Centre as well as helping when you are applying for funding and marketing purposes.

Great, who can I contact to say that I’m interested?

Please get in touch with us using our dedicated email address meetingcentres@worc.ac.uk

By contacting us, we’ll be able to see where interest is across the UK and target our support more effectively.

New funding around Meeting Centres – what does it actually mean?

Here at the Association for Dementia Studies, we’ve recently been awarded a National Lottery grant from the Big Lottery Fund to help establish new Meeting Centres in different parts of the UK. To help you understand what this actually means in practice, we’ve put together some information about the project.

First off, what is a Meeting Centre?

A Meeting Centre is a local resource, operating out of ordinary community buildings, that offers ongoing warm and friendly expert support to people and families affected by dementia. At the heart of the Meeting Centre is a social club where people meet to have fun, talk to others and get help that focusses on individual needs. Meeting Centres are based on sound research evidence on what helps people to cope well in adjusting to living with the symptoms and changes brought about by dementia.

What goes on there?

The social club usually meets three days a week, supporting 15-20 members per day. A team of trained staff and volunteers provide an enjoyable and flexible programme of activities for both the person with dementia and their family carers. All activities are designed to help people adapt to the challenges that living with dementia can bring. This involves a chance to get together socially, be creative, get active, and share lunch. Family carers get assistance with practical and emotional issues, as well as being able to contribute to social club activities. Some family members use the opportunity to have a break from their caring role. Couples consulting sessions, social activities and excursions also help people to enjoy life together.

Ok, that sounds great. I think I’d like to set up a Meeting Centre in my town. Can I get funding from you?

The funding we’ve received isn’t to fund other Meeting Centres directly, it’s to enable us to provide support, guidance and advice to people like you, who are thinking about developing your own Meeting Centre. We’ll also be evaluating some parts of the project to gain a greater understanding of how Meeting Centres operate over time in different communities and situations.

What sort of support will you be offering?

We’ll be offering a wide range of support including:

  • Workshops to provide further information to people interested in starting their own Meeting Centre
  • A guidebook on how to set up and run a Meeting Centre following a tried and tested approach
  • Sharing learning from other Meeting Centres, including potential opportunities to visit existing Meeting Centres and see them in practice
  • Establishing an online community of practice where people involved in Meeting Centres can share ideas and support each other
  • Developing and delivering training for Meeting Centre staff members
  • Developing self-evaluation tools to help you evaluate the benefits and cost-effectiveness of Meeting Centres for people with dementia, their carers, and the wider community. This will be vital for your own understanding of your Meeting Centre as well as helping when you are applying for funding and marketing purposes.

Great, who can I contact to say that I’m interested?

Please get in touch with us using our dedicated email address meetingcentres@worc.ac.uk

By contacting us, we’ll be able to see where interest is across the UK and target our support more effectively.

 

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First Meeting Centre in Scotland – Kirriemuir

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It has been quite a while since I last posted on this blog but was worth waiting for. Professor Dawn Brooker and I (Shirley Evans) went up to Kirriemuir on the 25th July 2018 to present to their first Initiative Group meeting. There was a splendid turn out of 16 people at Kirrie Connect’s Dementia Hub with representation from all sectors of the community. Everyone was keen to sign up to the working groups looking at location premises, staffing, target group, programme, PR and marketing and last but certainly not least, finance. The Hub is already in existence and is very centrally located in the main street. It has a fantastic atmosphere and is making a great impact in the community.  Graham Galloway who is the Project Manager expects the Hub to become a Meeting Centre in 3 to 4 months. There is a great article in the Kirriemuir Courier on the Initiative Group meeting. We hope that this is the first of many Meeting Centres which will open in Scotland over the next two or three years.

 

 

 

 

 

Ross Meeting Centre

20170405 Ross Meeting Centre Drumming WorkshopRoss Meeting Centre opened in March 2017 and is a new local service for people with mild/moderate dementia providing support for both people with dementia and their carers. It provides a person centred approach giving shared benefits and is based on the Dutch model as piloted in Droitwich Spa and Leominster. It is open from 11.00 am to 3.00 pm every Wednesday.

There is a wonderful warm and friendly atmosphere. When I visited Lynn Kay of Beat It percussion was running a drumming and bell ringing session. You can see the group in the photo above. We had a brilliant time and we were pretty chuffed with our rendition of All Things Bright and Beautiful.

The Ross Meeting Centre is supported by Dr Simon Lennane of Alton Street Surgery and the Community Dementia Nurses (2G|) as well as the Ross Mental Health Steering Group. The contact email is rossmeetingcentre@gmail.com

UK MeetingDem Conference March 2017

After the Meeting Centre Conference some presenters and delegates

Nearly 200 people attended the UK MeetingDem National Conference on Tuesday the 21st March 2017 at the University Arena in Worcester.

As part of a three-year EU Joint Programme Neurodegenerative Disease (JPND) funded MeetingDem research programme, Centres were set up, with funding from the Alzheimer’s Society and Herefordshire Council, in Droitwich, Worcestershire, in September 2015 and Leominster, in Herefordshire, in February 2016.

The main purpose of the conference was to present the key findings from the MeetingDem project for the first time in the UK and to reflect on how this evidence-based innovation for supporting people with dementia and their families could become part of the dementia care pathway in the UK.

The morning session was chaired by Professor Dawn Brooker. Partners from the Netherlands, Poland, Italy and the UK presented their results. The research has found that access to local support centres for people living with dementia significantly improves their quality of life and behaviour and that people experienced improved self-esteem and less disturbed behaviour by attending a regular Meeting Centre, where they could interact with others in a similar situation, close to their home.

More than half of Meeting Centre users surveyed noticed an improvement in their self-esteem and more than a third displayed fewer symptoms of disturbed behaviour. Two thirds of family carers reported coping better with their loved ones’ symptoms.

Also in the morning were interviews with the Droitwich Spa and Leominster Meeting Centre managers. Ginnie Jaques, Services Manager in Herefordshire for Alzheimer’s Society, said: “The Leominster Meeting Centre is very inclusive and brings family and community together.  I feel it helps the person keep connected to their community.  The engagement with the centre has grown and now it is part of the town. It enables everyone to feel equal and accept support.”

One of the many highlights of the day was a panel interview and discussion with Meeting Centre members. One Leominster man, who attends a Meeting Centre, said: “It wouldn’t be over-dramatic to say it saved my life. When I was diagnosed, I thought what am I going to do?  From the word go, it was just right.  People were welcoming, there were projects and things to do.  The alternative for me would be to sit at home on my own.  It’s a no-brainer.”

MeetingDem Conference Franka Meiland, Jeremy Hughes, Dawn Brooker, Ivor Jones and Friends

One man attending the Droitwich Meeting Centre said: “When I look around, there are many welcoming faces and they are smiling. I feel we must support one another and try and help each other. We all need a bit of encouragement and we’ve all got something to offer.”

A carer, whose husband lives with dementia, said: “We were at home all the time and I was going under mentally and physically.  The Meeting Centre was my saviour.  I do have a bit of time to myself now and it is lovely.  He’s fine when he comes back and it makes me feel so much better.”

The afternoon session was chaired by Jeremy Hughes Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Society. Delegates engaged in lively round table discussions around a range of propositions relating to Meeting Centres including their relationship to dementia care pathways, housing and extra care and the dementia care pathway.

Professor Dawn Brooker has called for the service to be rolled out across towns in the UK and become part of the standardised care pathway for people with dementia.

She said: “There has been a tendency in the UK to build services at scale that cover ever wider geographical areas or to assume that home-based support with web-based connectivity will provide people with all they need.  Meeting Centres are local, friendly and connect people to each other and to their sense of community. Our research shows hard evidence that this brings benefit to people compared to the usual care.

“Support for families and for people affected by dementia is often fragmented and varies tremendously across the country. The Meeting Centres Support Programme can provide integrated, easy access support to people with dementia and their families enabling them to live longer independently with a better quality of life.”

Valentine’s Coffee Morning at Leominster Meeting Centre

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When I set out this morning for the Valentine’s Coffee Morning at Leominster Meeting Centre I wasn’t expecting to see the UEFA Cup. You can see a picture above of Alan holding the cup which he and his wife had arranged to be sent from Switzerland. A small donation was all that was required to have your picture taken with it to impress your friends and family.

There was a good turn out with over 30 visitors from across the local community as well as the members and family carers.  We were tempted by a wonderful array of homemade cakes, valentine cards, a bring and buy and a raffle and, as they say, much more. Councillor Jenny Bartlett surprised us all with a pop-up origami workshop when we had great fun creating valentine hearts.

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Over £ 350 was raised to support Leominster Meeting Centre so a very big thank you to all those who helped set it up and all those who were able to come along, have a good time and kindly spend their money.

Final MeetingDem International Meeting in Milan

Participants from the four countries, the Netherlands, Poland, Italy and the UK attended the final project international meeting last week (20th and 21st of January 2017) in Milan.  We were hosted by the Italian project team at the Don Gnocchi Foundation.

Over the two days we were able to reflect on the successes of the project as well as think about the outcomes of the evaluation and plan for the UK National Conference.

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Witthout doubt one of the highlights was the visit to one of the Italian Meeting Centres at Carlo Poma Associazone CSRC . We were greeted by the Director Adolfo Cozzolino and were very quickly engaged in some invigorating psychomotor therapy with members and volunteers.

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It was a real treat to sit down with members and family carers and share a delicious lunch  and share our experiences of Meeting Centres. There are of course some differences but the atmoshphere and the warmth and friendliness are very much something we all have in common.

Droitwich Spa Meeting Centre Christmas Party

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Over 30 people attended the Droitwich Spa Meeting Centre Christmas party. It was a joyous occasion with much fun and laughter with delicious food prepared by the Centre’s amazing team.

Gill Read, Worcestershire Services Manager (pictured right above ) set the scene with a pre-lunch Christmas quiz  – an exciting two-team challenge. After lunch we had pass the parcel followed by a bit of Oomph, what’s not to like?  It really was great fun for all,  a real family occasion for all ages as you can see from the photo below.

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There was one sad note though as it was the last day for Jan Little (below) who has worked locally for the Alzheimer’s team for over four years. She will be missed very much not least because she is one of those people who always make you feel better for seeing them. Jan we wish you well in whatever you go on to next.

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Droitwich Spa First Year Anniversary Celebration

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Friday 25th November 2016 was the  date for the  first year anniversary celebration at Droitwich  Spa Meeting Centre with around  8o people attending. Members of the community including those involved in  the  Advisory Group some of whom had signed the Meeting  Centre pledge a year ago, and most importantly those who attend the  Centre   were welcomed to the event by Alzheimer’s Society Manager Gill Read.

It was wonderful to hear from members and  family caregivers about  their experiences over the year, some of who were not sure about the  Centre at the start but who have since found it to be  a very valuable  and  important source of support, friendship and enjoyment – ‘the  friendship  it brings to all of us is marvellous.’ Professor Dawn  Brooker, Director of the Association for Dementia Studies at the  University of Worcester, spoke about the MeetingDem project,  how far we have come and how we might move forward  with a sustainable funding  model. There is a vision for a Centre in every town.

We also heard from Colin Capper, Head of Research Evaluation and Development at the Alzheimer’s Society about how the society will help support Meeting  Centres in the future.

Gill introduced Sam Arnold, the Meeting Centre Manager who together with his amazing team of staff has spearheaded this innovative and essential service. Many people were thanked during the event and it has been a fantastic team effort but at the end of the day it is all about  the members, they are the people who  make it what it is.

Proceedings were rounded off with a welcome cup  of tea and coffee and cake. It’s hard  to believe we have been  open over a year already. It has been an exciting and challenging journey but I wouldn’t have missed a minute of it. May there be many Happy Returns!

Dementia Friendly Leominster – Mayor’s Civic Service

 

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The Mayor, Angela Pendleton  with the High Sheriff of Herefordshire, Bill Jackson and Mrs Jackson.

There was a wonderful turnout on Sunday 23rd October 2016 at Leominster Priory Church for the Mayor’s Civic Service. Angela Pendleton is the Mayor of Leominster and she was accompanied by her husband Roger who is the deputy Mayor. Dementia Friendly Leominster, closely affiliated with Leominster Meeting Centre is one of the two charities that Angela is supporting during her year of office, the other being the Children’s Ward at the County Hospital.

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Councillor Brian Wilcox  – Chair of Herefordfordshire Council and Air Vice Marshall Michael Smart – Deputy Lieutenant of Herefordshire