The Malta Independent 25 March 2019, Monday

Memory Cafés offer connection for people with dementia

Sunday, 13 May 2018, 08:17 Last update: about 12 months ago

Alex Gobey


The first Memory Cafés were developed in The Netherlands in 2004, where educational talks were followed by a social gathering, and this idea quickly spread to other countries. In the United Kingdom, Memory Cafes have become a regular feature of dementia care services. This year, the Department of Active Ageing and Community Care (AACCD) in association with the Malta Dementia Society – started an initiative to set up a number of Memory Cafés, throughout the year, in different locations in our local communities.



What are Memory Cafés?

Living with dementia can be stressful and isolating. The concept of Memory Cafés was introduced to provide a sense of community, activities and information for both the caregiver and the person with dementia. Memory Cafés bring together people with dementia, their carers, and appropriate professionals in an informal environment where they can socialize without embarrassment, share information about the condition, and provide support to one another. Memory Cafés can ease feelings of isolation and offer support and community to participants and their loved ones. These gatherings are organized in a safe, accessible community space, usually in the AACCD’s Community Active Ageing Day Centres. The discussions which take place during the gatherings are directed by the participants – questions are asked and concerns are voiced, and people with dementia and their carers are encouraged to contribute to the discussions. Professionals are there to facilitate these interactions and provide support when professional information or help is needed. Tea, coffee and biscuits are served to create a welcoming, informal, cafeteria atmosphere and this helps the participants feel more at ease and comfortable to share their experiences.

No one is asked for their diagnosis; the aim is to make everyone welcome and feel safe to interact with others who are going through similar experiences. These gatherings strive to be inclusive, free of stigma and culturally competent. All types and severities of dementia are welcome, even people who might not be able to join in the discussion due to communication difficulties. Persons who are unable to join in the discussion with the main group can join in other appropriate activities set up by professionals, such as physiotherapists or occupational therapists. Persons with dementia must be accompanied by a caregiver who is encouraged to join in the discussions and make connections with other persons going through similar experiences.

The next Memory Cafe will take place on Saturday 19 May (11am-1pm) and will take the form of an outing to ‘Arka ta’ Noe’, an animal park in Triq il-Karlozzu, Siggiewi. Entrance is free for persons with dementia and their caregivers. We will tour the park and then, followed by interaction and discussion in the centre’s cafeteria.

For more information about this event – call the Dementia Helpline on: 1771. The Dementia Helpline is available 24/7 and operated by trained nurses who are able to give advice and guidance to anyone who calls to seek help or advice related to dementia. One can find out about future events by following the Malta Dementia Society and Endzheimer Facebook pages.


Alex Gobey is the Dementia Care Coordinator at the Active Ageing & Community Care Department

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