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  • Writer's pictureEve Wright

Parish Nursing in the Community: Dementia Café

One of the many ways parish nurses serve their community is by reaching out and supporting those in need. Whether someone is facing mental health challenges or an isolating medical condition, parish nurses provide companionship, advice and support. People with dementia and those who care for them often feel alone and isolated from their communities, so for many, parish nurses have played an important role in their care. In one community, the parish nursing team started a Dementia Café for local people living with dementia, including their friends and family. 

When the café first began to meet, attendance was modest. One couple, steadfast in their commitment, continued to attend even when they were the sole participants. Overtime, the café grew, and so did the sense of friendship among participants. 

As the world grappled with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Dementia Café faced an unprecedented challenge. Undeterred, Margaret, one of the parish nurses, devised a plan to ensure that the vital connections nurtured in the group would endure. Volunteers were paired with members and caregivers for regular telephone contact, forming a lifeline that transcended physical barriers. As the lockdown continued, a bi-monthly newsletter was created, filled with group updates, birthdays, quizzes, jokes, and more. The newsletter was delivered with a doorstep visit. 

The value of these efforts was encapsulated in the words of a grateful member: "It is nearly a year since we last met up at the cafe and we have missed it so much." The son of another member expressed profound gratitude for the remarkable difference the group made in his parents' lives during challenging times.

Since lockdown restrictions were lifted, the community has continued to meet. The café has a varied programme of activities. Quizzes, games, crafts, singing, percussion, and chair-based exercises filled the sessions. Through these activities, the parish nurses facilitate not only social connection, but also therapeutic experiences, promoting cognitive and physical well-being.

The journey of the Dementia Café is a testament to the profound impact a caring community can have on those facing the challenges of dementia. Guided by a passionate parish nursing team, this initiative has become a lifeline, fostering resilience, joy, and a sense of belonging in the lives of those touched by dementia. In every cup of tea shared and every smile exchanged, the Dementia Café stands as a beacon of hope, reminding us of the transformative power of community support in the face of adversity.

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