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The Meeting Place Project

The Meeting Place Project

Tuesday 21 September 2021

The Meeting Place Project


One man told me about his house. He’s been there all his life and recalls hearing Germans outside when he was a child during the occupation.

A woman tells me about how the pandemic has knocked her confidence - she used to be so active but rarely leaves the house now.

Another woman tells me how much she enjoyed the brain training puzzles that we started the session with, and asks me if she can take a few home with her for later.

There are people from all walks of life here, but the one thing they all have in common is a diagnosis of dementia.

The reason we’re all together, chatting away, making new friends, and supping on cups of hot tea and coffee, is that this is the inaugural session of the Meeting Place Project, writes James du Heaume, Education and Meeting Place Coordinator at Dementia Jersey...

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Pictured: "The Meeting Place Project is a place where people with a new diagnosis of dementia can regularly meet to exchange experiences, have fun and get targeted support."

The project is based on the University of Worcester ‘UK Meeting Centre’s Support Programme’ which aims for local programmes to become a backbone of community-based support for people and families. It’s developed from a similar model in the Netherlands and there is evidence to suggest that if people make good emotional, social, and practical adjustments following diagnosis, then it is more likely that they will be able to live at home for longer with a better quality of life.  

At the heart of this The Meeting Place Project is a place where people with a new diagnosis of dementia can regularly meet to exchange experiences, have fun and get targeted support. Our group sessions will include discussions and information about living well with dementia and fun activities to exercise the brain, all in a relaxed and friendly environment.

I got involved in this project upon returning to Jersey after 10 years working in the UK for environmental and health charities. Dementia Jersey had received funding from the government to start a new initiative providing support for people with a recent diagnosis. I had good experience setting up support groups for people with sight loss in the UK and a few of the older people at the groups had early signs of dementia too. The opportunity excited me, so I jumped at the chance. It was after a few months with the charity that I realised just how nuanced and complicated the world of dementia can be.

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Pictured: Many people with dementia want to find ways to cope, stay healthy and delay the progression of symptoms.

Here are just a few of the things I’ve learnt:

  • Dementia is an umbrella term for several different diseases that affect the brain, such as Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia.
  • It’s not all about memory loss and it isn’t a normal part of aging.
  • Vascular dementia happens when the blood supply to parts of your brain becomes reduced and can be the result of a stroke, or many mini-strokes.
  • For some people it’s mobility and balance where they notice the biggest impact early on.
  • Others have problems with word finding.
  • Learning new things, like a musical instrument, can help some people delay symptoms.

This learning, along with expert input from the charity’s dementia advisors and an ex-nurse sister in dementia care, have helped shape The Meeting Place Project. It’s one of many services offered by Dementia Jersey for people with dementia and their carers.

Many people with dementia want to find ways to cope, stay healthy and delay the progression of symptoms, and that’s why we’ve created The Meeting Place Project. Getting a diagnosis of dementia is different for everyone. For some people it can be a daunting and emotionally overwhelming experience, whilst others have described a sense of relief that they finally have answers for the symptoms they are experiencing. 

If you’re reading this as a person with dementia, or perhaps as a family member or friend, and you think the Meeting Place Project could help, please contact me on dan@dementia.je or call 07829772204.

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