What to expect
We pride ourselves on giving everyone a warm welcome at the Café where you will soon get to know everyone and feel part of our family atmosphere. The first thing you will notice is that everyone is smiling. The second thing you will notice is that it is very hard to know who is living with dementia and who is not. That is because everyone is enthusiastic about what they are doing and keen to talk and laugh with everyone else. We often find that the best person to support someone with dementia is another person with dementia. The way that people who have the same condition can share how they enjoy their life and take part in activities can be very inspiring. At the same time, if you are a husband or wife supporting someone with dementia it can be very comforting to chat to other husbands and wives and hear what has been helpful to them.
There is no pressure to do anything at the Monday Club Café and most people visiting for the first time sip their coffee, eat their cake and just sit and watch what is going on. But as the weeks go by, you will probably find that you get interested in taking part in a wide range of activities. We have some regulars who just love to chat over a game of dominoes or a jigsaw. Others like to make things – everything from painting and crafts to flower arranging or even Lego. We also have something called a Magic Table which is a touchscreen interactive table where people can play games, even football. This is very popular and fun and is guaranteed to raise a smile.
We have a very active Knit and Natter group of ladies who have made an astounding number of knitted blankets and baby sets which have been donated to many local charities, including the women’s refuge and the neonatal unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.
We normally spend the last 20 minutes with live music. We are lucky to have volunteers who play the guitar and the keyboard and have put together our own songbooks. Often families are amazed to see their loved one joining in the singing and even spontaneously getting up for a little dance. Every week we see how important music is for people living with dementia.
Take time to flick through the gallery of photos. These are all genuine photos of our Monday Club Café and will give you a good idea of what to expect.
The Monday Club Café runs every Monday morning at the Christian Centre, Aylesbury Rd, Wendover, Aylesbury HP22 6JG. When you are invited, you will be offered one of two sessions – 10:00-11:15 or 11:30-12:45. If transport is a difficulty, we can provide transport from a voluntary driver. The Monday Club Café is free though we welcome donations.
The Monday Club Café is designed to provide an opportunity for people living with dementia and their family to come and enjoy meeting others in a similar position. It is staffed entirely by volunteers who provide a warm welcome and a chance to chat over a cup of coffee and a piece of homemade cake. Our aim is to provide an environment where people listen, share and care for each other.
The Wendover Christian Centre has proved to be an excellent venue. We are very grateful to Wendover Free Church and Roman Catholic Church for all their support and help. The Centre is decorated, furnished and cleaned to a high standard and offers flexible space for multi-activities. Two side rooms are useful for one-to-one and small groups. Toilet and kitchen facilities are well equipped and car parking space is available. Since there are no stairs, it is suitable for those with limited mobility requiring wheelchairs or walking frames. The garden offers enjoyable outside space during the summer months. It is well equipped with plenty of chairs.
“I have not seen him so stimulated for a long time.”
“I have had the best time this morning and really enjoyed our group of men.”
“Lovely music brings tears to your eyes.”
“I’m overwhelmed with what you provide here.”
“When I come through these doors on a Monday morning I feel as though I am walking into a huge hug.”
“I was quite nervous coming in today. We had a really lovely time – can we come again?”
“Monday morning is the highlight of our week.”
“Everyone is always smiling.”
“Every week I have to really persuade my wife to come. She says it is too much effort but when I see her laughing and singing, I know she benefits so much. And so do I!”
“If I have a problem or a concern I know I can ask someone for advice at the café. They have helped me so much.”
“We had forgotten how to have fun until we came to the café.”
“I love talking to other people who are going through the dementia journey. You can learn so much from others.”
“We are like just one big happy family.”
“My husband hates groups, so I was amazed to see him relaxed and laughing using the Magic Table. I can’t remember when I last saw him laugh.”
“It has literally been a lifeline.”
“At various times both our daughters and our grandchildren have come with us to the café. They have said they learnt so much from the volunteers – but also really enjoyed it!”
“The music has an extraordinary effect on him. It actually makes him happy – I would never have believed it.”
Music systems and personal playlists
Although we started this during the pandemic we still provide special dementia-friendly music systems to be used at home. These music systems come complete with headphones and are pre-loaded with the live Monday Club Café music from Jill on her keyboard. We also provide help for families to download a personal playlist.
The power of personal music for people with dementia is a recognised phenomenon backed up by decades of research. In 2019, The World Health Organisation undertook a major study investigating the evidence for the health benefits of the arts. A section on dementia found evidence of multiple specific benefits, including reducing anxiety and depression, supporting cognition, speech and memory, reducing the need for antipsychotic drugs and fewer and shorter stays in hospital.
In her book ‘Where Memories Go’, Sally Magnusson describes looking after her mother with dementia. “I would have given anything for someone to say ‘try this music. it’s not a cure but it can really help‘. You can have moments of real happiness and flashes of joy!”
She was so convinced of the benefit of music that she set up the charity Playlist for Life.
Advice and support
We have two separate rooms available so our visitors have the opportunity for a one-to-one meeting in private with one of our senior volunteers. Very often a family carer or visitor asks for a meeting when they are troubled by a dilemma or concern. The senior volunteer can listen carefully, provide support and help to explore options and strategies. In many cases, they can help to access available resources and explain any legal or financial issues. If the issue is a challenging dilemma, they might work with the carer to explore other approaches. If necessary, the rest of the family can be consulted through home visits or Zoom meetings and the carer can also ask for WDS to liaise with the Complex Care Team at Westongrove. Families are asking for this aspect of the service increasingly frequently. These discussions are strictly confidential.
“My mother had had a very difficult week with my father who was getting very agitated in the evening. I went with my mother to the Café and we spent nearly an hour with one of the senior volunteers who was so helpful and supportive. She suggested things we would never have thought of and even sent us a follow-up email as a summary of our discussion. Things did improve and now we know there is always that support and advice there – such a comfort.”
Monday Club Café gallery
Click on a picture below to enlarge it.