For the past two months, people accessing dementia services have been enjoying a relaxing coffee morning at Chester Zoo, courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Society.
Hosted at the Bembe Coffee Shop, the sessions offer a dementia-friendly environment where people living with dementia and their carers can come along for a coffee and a catch up.
At Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP), staff from Cherry Ward, the dedicated dementia ward, heard about the coffee mornings and decided it was something that could benefit people who use the service.
Specialist occupational therapist Emma McGee said: “We are really grateful to the organisations who facilitate this group. It is really good to get some of our patients out of hospital and into a different environment. Our patients always have a really good time and it is great to see them enjoy themselves. I would like to pay special thanks to our portering staff who assist us with transport.”
The coffee mornings were established by Chester Zoo and Upton Dene Residential and Nursing Home, along with the Alzheimer’s Society. In August of last year, they were searching for a new venue and, after positive initial meetings with zoo staff, they decided to hold their coffee mornings at the zoo.
There is a steady attendance from CWP service users who can enjoy a number of activities during the coffee morning, as well as having a relaxing drink and some cake.
Among the activities were quizzes and crosswords. Some of the quizzes had a theme, such as Carry On Films. There were also scrapbooks available with reminiscence-style themes, such as VE day, for the benefit of attendees and also visitors from social care homes across Cheshire.
The Alzheimer’s Society run a number of support groups across Cheshire. Peer support group facilitator Amy Robinson is clear about the benefits this one brings.
She said: “The group is a great way of providing people with information, advice and peer support. Regular meetings can help to improve people’s overall health and wellbeing and can also help to reduce social isolation and bring people together in the local community.
“There is a lovely, relaxed atmosphere at the venue and the staff at the zoo are extremely supportive. It is a great opportunity for people to meet others in similar situations and can provide a support network for those who need it.”
The drop-in coffee mornings take place at the Bembe Coffee Shop, Chester Zoo on the second and fourth Mondays of each month from 10.30am.