With thanks to support from Lions Australia, Queensland-based Café Connect is helping people with dementia feel part of their community.
When Connie Florence’s mother had Alzheimer’s, the whole family felt the effects of their ongoing social isolation. Back in their home country, Canada, Connie’s sister found some solace in what’s been dubbed ‘Alzheimer’s Café’.
“I wanted to do the same thing here, in Queensland, to help people who have the same problem my mother had,” says Connie. “The social isolation is so real, and it increases the onset of dementia. And the carers get into deep isolation from the community as well. We’re trying to make the community more aware and to interact with people who have dementia.”
Café Connect was born, under the umbrella of Alzheimer’s Australia. Through this initiative, many people touched by dementia – those who are experiencing it, as well as their carers, families and aged care workers – come together once a month for social connection, educational support, and fun activities.
“They’re making friends with each other, we sing songs from their era, tell jokes, and together we have outings to the museum or out walking,” says Connie. “One month we even had a wedding theme because one couple was celebrating their 60th anniversary; people brought their wedding photos and we made a game of guessing who was who!”
Community support and a $1000 Community 100 grant from Lions Australia have been vital in getting the project going. “The grant really got us going. We used it to purchase some comfortable chairs; if people don’t feel comfortable, they just won’t come,” Connie says.
Ingham Lions Club member Pat Linch, who has been with the club for 20 years, says the grant went to Café Connect because, “It definitely has a direct link back to the wellbeing of the community.”
Pat, whose Lions Club work is a family affair – his wife is the incoming president and one of his daughters is the secretary – says the club is always working on interesting projects. “We run the Maraka Festival over three weekends each year, and we’re about to create a centenary memorial mosaic at our Leos park.”
It seems that family and connection are the two most important things for this Lions Club and Café Connect.
For more information on Café Connect, call Connie on 0428 765 922. To contact the Ingham Lions Club, visit inghamau.lionwap.org
Words by Megan Blandford for Country Style Magazine