New dementia cafe gets grant

A NEW cafe aimed at helping those who are living with demetia is set to open in Banbridge in the new year.

It comes after the Alzheimer’s Society was awarded £500,000 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching out: Connecting Older People programme which supports older people affected by issues such as bereavement, disability or long term illness or who live in residential care or sheltered housing.

The charity is planning to use the funding to extend its Northern Ireland wide network, by setting up six additional dementia cafes over the next four years, including a cafe in the Banbridge area.

No location for the location has been saught yet but Acting Director of the Alzheimer’s Society, Bernadine McCrory, said they would be happy to talk to anyone who would be willing to accommodate them.

“Initially the cafe would be open one day a week and people can drop in as they please,” she said.

“The cafes allow those with dementia and their carers to get support from each other. As well as that other organisations, such as public health organisations, will be on hand to offer advice.

“Sometimes those who live with dementia are left to feel like their social circle decreases because people feel like they don’t want to say the wrong thing to them in case they upset them. The cafe setting allows people to relax, enjoy a tea or coffee and talk about matters which matter to them.”

The dementia cafes will provide a meeting place for both people with dementia and their carers to enjoy together; a place for them to meet others with experience of living with dementia and where people can access information, support and signposting to other services they may need.

The cafes will also include stimulating and enjoyable activities such as reminiscence, music therapy, arts and crafts and access to a dedicated dementia support worker.

Ms McCrory explained: “Dementia Cafes will be based in local community venues. We know from research involving people with dementia, which we undertook in Northern Ireland in 2009, (Listening Well report) that social isolation can be a big issue for people with a diagnosis.

“After getting a timely diagnosis, people living with dementia want information about their condition and how it will develop. They want support to make decisions about their lives so they can live well now and plan for the future.

“Alzheimer’s Society is committed to supporting people with dementia to live well at every stage as their condition progresses. Dementia Cafes have a big part to play in making this a reality.”

She continued: “There are estimated to be 17,700 people with dementia in Northern Ireland and that figure is set to increase to 25,000 by 2021, so there is no question as to the scale of need for such services for people with a dementia diagnosis and their families and carers.”

Frank Hewitt, Big Lottery Fund NI Chair, said: “I am delighted that we are announcing this funding from our £20 million Connecting Older People programme. This programme closes to outline proposal forms on February 29 2012, so if you’ve got an idea for a project that you think could be funded we would advise you to get your project proposal in as soon as possible.

“Grants of up to £500,000 are available to support older people through activities such as physical and mental health projects, volunteering programmes and projects that will bring isolated older people and young people together.”

The Reaching Out: Connecting Older People programme is open now for applications. To find out more visit www.biglotteryfund.org.uk