Country café offers a cuppa, a chat and a little respite

A Centacare MemoryCafe (The Catholic Leader)

A new "memory café" in rural southeast Queensland aims to support people with dementia and those who care for them. Source: The Catholic Leader.

Centacare and Lutheran Services have teamed up to open a memory café in Kingaroy – a place where people with dementia and their carers can meet, once a month, share information and learn from health care professionals.

It also offers carers a chance for a few hours of respite and a chance to chat over a cuppa – which can be vital when dealing with dementia.

Dementia affects more than 400,000 Australians, yet it remains a hidden illness, and especially so in rural and remote areas.

“Let’s be frank, there aren’t the services in rural areas, and there’s a stigma attached to being diagnosed with the illness,” Centacare Brisbane’s dementia strategy manager Ann Donaghy said.

“It’s hidden because people won’t open up about it. People will hide the fact they have dementia as long as they can,” Mrs Donaghy said. “What advantage is there to say ‘I have dementia’ and risk losing their job and their (driver’s) licence?”

Centacare opened its first memory café in Brisbane in February 2017 – with bi-monthly meetings at the Churches of Christ campus in Mitchelton. Now there are plans to set up cafes in Gympie and on the Fraser Coast.

Mrs Donaghy said there was a big need for adequate services and greater awareness about dementia in rural centres like Kingaroy.

“If you need to have a proper diagnosis of dementia you have to travel to Toowoomba or Brisbane,” she said. “Can people afford to do that?”

The memory café idea was borrowed from the first Alzheimer Café started by Bere Miesen in the Netherlands in 1997.

Dr Miesen was frustrated that health and social care students were not taught more about the invisible (emotional) aspects of living with dementia, including fear, anger, helplessness, stress and grieving.

There are now 200 cafes operating in the Netherlands and dozens more worldwide.


New service in Kingaroy provides better care for dementia patients in rural towns (The Catholic Leader

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