The Dementia and Geriatric Emergency Medicine Service teams at Weston Area Health NHS Trust have launched a new initiative to support people and families living with dementia. Lillian’s memory café’ is a monthly café style drop-in service at Weston General Hospital. It’s open to everyone in the local area who’s living with a dementia diagnosis of either themselves or of a loved one. The café is also open to use by patients with a dementia diagnosis staying in the hospital when the café is being run. If they’re well enough to leave their hospital beds they’ll be encouraged to go to the café. Friends and family can accompany them too.


The café has been set up to help people recognise the signs and symptoms of dementia, support people living with a diagnosis of the condition and break down any stigma around the disease.


Lillian’s memory café was the brainchild of Emma-Louise Woods from the Geriatric Emergency Medicine Service and Sarah Oakwood, the Trust’s Admiral Nurse (a specialist in dementia).


Sarah, Emma and representatives from the Alzheimers Society will be at the café alongside volunteers who’ve been specially trained to be ‘dementia friends’. The group will be on hand to give advice, support, signpost on to other services and spend time with people and offer them tea, coffee and cake.


As well as providing information for people caring for those with dementia, Lillian’s café has been set up to make it a comfortable and calm experience for people with dementia to use. People with dementia often suffer from a lack of stimulation and boredom. At the café they’ll be encouraged toreminisce about their life, make emotional connections and express themselves. This all helps towards them feeling more engaged. Every few months Weston Museum is putting on a reminiscence service in Lillian’s café using things from Weston’s past.


Speaking about why they decided to set up the café and the benefits to local pepole Emma-Louise Woods said:


“As part of the Geriatric Emergency Medicine Service in Weston’s A&E we see people arriving by ambulance with dementia every day. I felt it was important to have more support in place for people living with the disease - whether that’s for themselves or for a loved one.


“People with dementia and their carers can feel very lonely and isolated. At Lillian’s memory café we understand that people can feel fearful about going out and interacting with others. That’s why we’re here! We’re a small friendly group ready to help and support with whatever it is that people need - whether that’s practical advice or a cup of tea and a friendly chat.”


Sarah Oakwood, Admiral Dementia Nurse added "People living with dementia are more at risk of being isolated than those who don’t. An Alzheimer's Society report* shows that 35% of individuals say they have felt lonely recently. Lillian's Memory Café is just a small way that we can support people living with dementia and their loved ones to help redress that balance."


Lillian’s memory café at Weston General Hospital runs on the first Tuesday of the month between 10:00 and 12:00. It’s held in Rafters Restaurant on the ground floor of the hospital which will also be open for hot drinks and snacks for the public.