Determined to stay connected with their community and live a full life with dementia, for the past three years couples have been meeting at a local church and community house.
Umbrella Dementia Cafés (UDC), a new independent charity based in Melbourne, has a vision to improve the social health and wellbeing of couples and families living at home with dementia. UDC believe these individuals can be better supported with the provision of purpose-driven social hubs called ‘Cafés’. Ideally these Cafés are close to the home of the person with dementia as they benefit from familiarity within their immediate environment.
UDC was the brainchild of Kirsty Porter who was inspired to start UDC after visiting several dementia cafés in England and meeting with Hogeway Dementia Village’s founder in The Netherlands. This trip, combined with a great deal of research, inspired her to create a health promotion charity with the specific purpose of supporting families living with dementia. Kirsty says;
“I believe that if we connect communities with families and individuals living with dementia, we will have tremendous capacity for change, choice and innovation.
Community houses are the perfect context to create a supportive network of people within the local area, that serve to reduce the isolation and stigma often experienced by those with dementia. Local volunteers are empowered to deliver rich social experiences in the Cafés. These include sharing a meal, swapping stories and participating in activities that promote joy and laughter. There are also resources available at each café to connect people to local and national dementia support services.”
This year UDC received a grant from the state government’s ‘Pick My Project’ initiative which has provided an opportunity to test UDC’s concept. Umbrella Dementia Cafés is now collaborating with Box Hill South and Bennettswood Neighbourhood Houses to launch two new Cafés in August and September respectively. These will be modelled on UDC’s existing Cafés at Koonung Cottage Community House and One Community Church, to facilitate connection, belonging, resilience, awareness and inclusion.
It is the charity’s intention to equip individuals, couples and families with specific resources and to provide a safe space for people to freely experience their grief and/ or fear brought about by the many difficulties of the dementia journey.
Umbrella Dementia Cafés is currently inviting registrations to attend any of their four venues at umbrelladementiacafes.com.au They are also appealing for taxdeductible donations in order to continue the vital work of supporting individuals, couples and families in the local community, who are living at home with dementia. Kirsty, who resides in Blackburn, has over 20 years experience as a Registered Nurse and holds a degree in Aged Services Management.