Funded by: The Big Lottery Fund
About the Project
Social isolation and loneliness have a negative impact on health and well-being, and people with memory loss and various forms of dementia are at particular risk of being socially isolated. The need for a service that would enable people with memory loss and their carers to meet on a regular basis to alleviate loneliness and isolation, and improve their quality of life was identified by the Alzheimer’s Society who initiated the Memories Cafés programme. A total of six sites (located in Armagh, Banbridge, Kilkeel, Belfast, Comber and Newtownards) were set up in October 2012.
We conducted an independent evaluation of the Memories Cafés with regard to their capacity to relieve social isolation, reduce stigma, provide information about dementia and how best to cope with it, provide opportunities for social networking, offer meaningful activities, signposting to health and social care, and to facilitate service user feedback and evaluation, as well as afford support in accessing services.
The evaluation employed semi-structured interviews with Memories Cafes users and staff, observational notes, and a questionnaire. Interviews served to gather open-ended perspectives on the experience of those with dementia, carers, and Alzheimer’s Society’s Memories Cafés team members. We aimed to explore their views about dementia, their experiences of current service use, and to assess if expectations were sufficiently met.