Serving up comfort meals that spark conversation and memories.
A woman sips from a piping hot cup of tea as she gazes at an analog clock resting on a weathered mantle. A retro 1950s television set — just like the one she had as a kid — complements the pastel pink wall paint. Though dementia has faded her memories, she smiles for a moment as homemade food and vintage decor return her to the good ol’ days.
Image courtesy of Moments Café.
This scene is what Moments Café in Plymouth, England, has strived to provide for its community members living with dementia since it opened in March 2017.
Designed to spark conversation and memories, the café serves locally sourced comfort meals, from savoury roasts to delectable desserts, and offers decade-themed dining zones adorned with corresponding artifacts. Most notably, staff members take the time to get to know their visitors.
“We offer a warm, safe environment to eat, drink and socialize,” says Damian Chester, the café’s assistant manager. “Knowing we have a place where people can come to get help and dementia advice just feels so good.”
Chester, who lost both of his grandmothers to dementia, feels that his personal experience with the disease has deepened his connection to his work at the café, allowing him to take his hospitality to the next level. He says the rest of the staff is equally committed: “We learn customers’ names and we know when a lot of their birthdays are. It's those little things we try to always do.”
"Everything we do is to help people with dementia thrive in our community."
– Shania James
The cozy feeling the staff provides helps to create a place where the entire community wants to be. But Moments Café’s true novelty lies in its greater purpose, as it was built to sustain the Memory Matters hub, which is located above the café and offers free dementia support to those in need.
Co-founded in 2010 by nurses Kate Smith and Laura Walker, Memory Matters bases its work on Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST), which aims to increase brain engagement and social interaction while adding more meaning to peoples’ lives. Staff does this through hosting activities such as singalongs, arts and crafts sessions and various support groups.
“Everything we do is to help people with dementia thrive in our community,” says Shania James, dementia development officer for Memory Matters. “To see them smile really hits home for me that this is why I do what I do.”
Memory Matters hub. Photo courtesy of Moments Café.
Memory Matters also gives dementia resources and advice to people who come in for drop-in chats or by appointment. And to further promote better dementia care in the community, the organization offers CST classes to other health professionals, too.
But James and Chester agree that what is most important in their work is to provide that warm, community feeling in both the Memory Matters hub and the Moments Café.
“I love what I do, and I know how much of an impact it makes,” says Chester. “It just feels amazing to work at such a great place.”
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