Studley Parish Church has started a free monthly dementia café at their Parish Church Centre. At the café, people living with dementia and their carers can enjoy tea, coffee and cakes whilst chatting to supportive volunteers and taking part in an activity.
The café first opened in June after six months of preparation. Last year, Celia Spiers, the Anna Chaplain for the Arden Marches Group of Parishes, was looking for a way to help elderly people in the area, particularly those with dementia. At a similar time, Felicity Jones, a member of the church and a ST6 Doctor in Older Adult Psychiatry, was thinking about ways the church community can support people with dementia. They put their ideas together and started planning the dementia café.
The planning process included getting advice and wisdom from dementia cafes in other regions, writing policies and procedures, and recruiting volunteers. All volunteers are DBS checked and trained in safeguarding and dementia awareness. Many volunteers have had experience of caring for loved ones with dementia, so understand the struggles the disease causes. Part of their desire to volunteer at the café is to support others going through a similar experience.
On the 1st June 2023, the café opened for the first time. Three months in, the café now has regulars. Each meeting of the café follows a similar format – visitors are welcomed on the door by volunteers and then given a name sticker, new visitors fill out the registration form and then everyone is encouraged to get a cup of tea or coffee and slice of cake before joining a table to chat. At each event there is an activity or form of entertainment. At one café there was a talk about the Queen’s 1953 coronation including photos from celebrations at Studley School which a few visitors recognised friends in. At the most recent café there was a band made up of three men from Alcester Male Voice Choir. They sang hits from the 1950s and 60s which everyone could sing and dance along to. They even brought tambourines, bells, and shakers so people could join in with the band.
As well as entertainment and people to chat to, there are leaflets and information about different types of support available to people with dementia. There is also a dementia café book borrowing service where a variety of books on dementia and memories of the 1950s and 60s can be borrowed.
Beside the main café space, is a small room called the ‘Breathing Space’ which has comfortable seating. The space used to be a storage room until some money given to the Parish Centre through Warwickshire County Council’s Mental Wellbeing Fund allowed it to have a make-over and it is now a relaxing and comfortable environment to offer 1:1 support. If people are feeling a bit overwhelmed or in need of a more private chat, they can use the Breathing Space.
“We are amazed by the response of the Studley Community and would love to thank all of our volunteers for their hard work. If you’re unsure whether the café is for you or someone you know, please feel free to come along and see what it’s like. We would love to have a chat and see if we can support you in anyway.”
The next café will take place on Thursday 7th September between 2 to 4pm. It is free to attend, no pre-booking required. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Celia on 07710 198009. You can also find out more through the Studley Dementia Café Facebook group.