Lost Chord partners with the Alzheimer’s Society
Memory Cafés provide a way of recognising the individual experiences of people with dementia, carers and families. Internal evaluation has shown that the cafés can also help professionals and those who work with people with dementia to alter their perception of both the disease and people with dementia, by listening to what they have to say in a controlled and well-facilitated meeting.
Dementia Cafés are directed at people in the earlier stages of dementia and those who care for and support them, who are able to engage in and benefit from the group environment of the Café. Venues are set out as far as possible like a café to create a relaxed atmosphere.
Currently, there are four Memory cafés located in the north, south and central of Rotherham. In addition, subsequent to and as a result of partnership working with a number of BME groups in Rotherham, and Lost Chord, a pilot BME Memory café was launched on the 16th April 2014.
Musical entertainment provided by Lost Chord at these memory cafes most definitely encourages people with dementia and their carers to attend. Since having Lost Chord concerts at the memory cafes average attendance figures have doubled from September 2012 when attendance averaged 80 to recent figures of 180. This growth has resulted in us currently sourcing larger venues. We feel it important that anyone who would like to attend is able to do so and by finding venues that can accommodate greater numbers we will have the capacity to accommodate this increased growth.
Feedback from attendees is extremely positive and clients regularly describe the cafes and musical entertainment as their lifeline. You can visibly see the burden of caring lift off the shoulders of carers as they relax and enjoy musical entertainment. People can revert to being a couple once again rather than carer and person with dementia. They also gain great benefits from the peer support of others in a similar situation. Of utmost importance the benefits gained by the people with dementia is immeasurable. To observe people who are withdrawn and isolated come out of their shell and engage by singing and dancing is tangible, powerful and emotional for all to see.
An example of this is a client attended a Memory Café after being signposted to our groups by the Memory Clinic. RR had been attending the Memory Clinic for 18 months before being diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. The couple were struggling with adjustment to the diagnosis, as RR had been a very independent and a successful businessman, and had always taken control of the family finances, and decisions. Attending local groups had never been that interesting to him.
Following attending the Rotherham memory cafes regularly, the couple have made a large number of friends. They always get actively involved with the concerts and activities, and RR has been known to accompany the singers and they have supported him perform a solo on numerous occasions. He has also developed a closer relationship with another gentleman with Dementia, and they will often sit together, allowing their wives to chat and get support from one another. The two men have gone on to attend Satellite day services at the same time, and this has made for a very smooth transition on both parts, allowing their wives valuable respite from their caring roles.
RR and JR have both commented that their time at the café is invaluable because they are spending time with people in similar situations. RR can be himself when he is there. They see the café as a comfortable environment where they do not have to explain anything to anyone. They are enjoying their lives to the full with the support of others and will continue to do so for as long as possible. Lost Chord concerts are instrumental in creating this environment not only for these clients but all that attend.