I did have a slight panic when I was asked to write another blog so soon after my last attempt!! What on earth would I talk about that I didn’t cover last time?! Then in a light bulb moment I knew exactly what the topic was – our Milton Keynes Memory Café!
The café has become an integral part of the Milton Keynes events calendar, with dates set for the year and events already booked in throughout.
In the time that we have been running the café, we have seen it go from strength to strength, with our patrons returning month after month, helping to spread the word of what we offer to their friends and neighbours. The café is open to all; people we support within MacIntyre and our local community here in Milton Keynes and is run by myself, Nicky Payne and our trusty band of volunteers.
Every month we get really excited to see what the café will hold for us and we see our community come together to enjoy the morning’s events.
What has struck me over the past few months is that everybody mucks in together and that’s what makes it work so well. We all help each other out, and this is never more apparent than when we play our famous fun bingo!! People swap tables to help out those that need more support; everyone cheers when they win. It really is the little things that make all the difference – something that costs pence to make but is inclusive for all that are there to play.
At the last café I was struck by a particular staff member’s interactions with a gentleman that has a diagnosis of Dementia. It was a busy café as we had the Bucks Male Voice Choir with us and we had a full house. The gentleman in question was unusually distracted and indicated he needed to keep using the toilet. I observed the staff member throughout and each time watched as they reassured, guided, used touch, warmth and compassion throughout each and every interaction. They ensured they were at his eye level, so he could see the reassurance on their face and used speech and sign to help aid communication. Bearing in mind this gentleman left the room on several occasions, each time the staff member went through the same routine that they had done previously, never once getting irritated that they had to leave yet again!! I have to say, in my time working within MacIntyre this was one of those stand out moments that truly shows our values and our staff at their best.
I am already excited to see what this year holds for us at our café, and look forward to a jam-packed year ahead. When Nicky and I set out on the journey of setting up a café, I don’t think either of us dared to imagine that we would still be going nearly two years on. In that time the café really has gone from strength to strength.
But for me, the most important things are the friendships forged, the support each and every member shows each other and the barriers that are broken down!
Dementia takes no prisoners and, whether you have a disability or not, it will have the most devastating effect on those that are diagnosed and for those that care for them, but if our little café helps in being able to give people a safe, warm and caring environment in which to share difficult times as well as better times, then it has been worthwhile and long may it continue!
How powerful time can be and opportunities to sit and share stories, play a game of cards or dominos or even just sit and be, are what makes the Memory Café a truly special place and one I’m extremely proud to play a small part of.