About Meeting Centres
Evidence-based, local support for people and families living with dementia
What is a Meeting Centre?
It 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 focuses 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 that dementia brings.
Where did Meeting Centres start?
They were first developed in the Netherlands 25 years ago. Currently, there are 160 Dutch centres with a national network that local groups can utilise. Dutch research, and now European research, demonstrates that meeting Centres have positive outcomes for people with dementia and for family carers.
What goes on in a Meeting Centre?
A team of staff and volunteers trained in the Meeting Centre ethos provide an enjoyable and flexible programme for both the person with dementia and their family carers. The social club meets three days per week for 15-20 members.
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, to be creative, to get active and to share lunch.
Family carers get assistance
with practical and
emotional issues, as well as
being able to contribute
to social club activities.
"It's the day to day activities that they do here. You know, having a cup of tea with people, having their lunch with people. All the normality of being with a group of people, which when you are isolated on your own, you don't take part in."
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.
Adjusting to Change
A diagnosis of dementia is a huge challenge to come to terms with. If people make good emotional, social and practical adjustment to dementia following diagnosis, then it is likely that they will experience fewer distressing symptoms later and will be able to live at home for longer with a better quality of life for them and their families.
Help and support for families and people affected by dementia is often fragmented. People often feel overwhelmed and confused about where to get help. Meeting Centres are a way of providing accessible support on a local level to act against this.
The Meeting Centre supports people (members and family members) in helping them cope with the consequences of living with dementia and to make the best possible lifestyle adjustments for them as individuals.
Firstly, it helps people adjust to the cognitive impairments by helping people to deal with disability by understanding their changing symptoms and how to deal with them.
Secondly, it helps with emotional adjustment by supporting people get back on an even keel, to preserve a positive self-image and to prepare for and deal with the uncertainly that dementia brings.
Thirdly, it helps people adapt socially by developing and maintaining good social contacts with family and friends with their local community and the professional services that they will need support from as time goes by.
"It's being able to talk about these things with other people who are in exactly the same boat as you are, and they understand!."