WORCESTERSHIRE is to become the first county in the UK to offer specialist dementia meeting centres to all its residents.
Working with the University of Worcester’s Association for Dementia Studies, which first brought the meeting centres concept to the UK, Worcestershire County Council and its six district councils, including Bromsgrove District Council, are investing £540,000 to help local communities set up the meeting centres.
The scheme is being funded from the county’s 75 per cent Business Rates pilot, which has meant more money from business rates gathered in Worcestershire staying in the county.
The meeting centres will provide local community support to people and families directly affected by dementia.
At their heart will be a social club where people can meet to have fun, talk to others, and get the help and support they need.
A county pilot centre was set up in Droitwich and research has shown that meeting centres significantly improve self-esteem, levels of happiness, and a sense of belonging, as well as reducing some of the most distressing symptoms of dementia.
They also provide a source of support for family carers.
In 2018, the National Community Fund committed a grant of £587,601 to help scale up the development of Meeting Centres across the UK.
Professor Dawn Brooker, director of the Association for Dementia Studies, said: “We believe that Worcestershire could be a real game changer.
“If we can make this a successful model here then why shouldn’t other local authorities follow suit?”
Mike Watts, trustee of the Droitwich Spa Meeting Centre, is among the speakers and will be talking about a case study.
He said the Droitwich Spa Meeting Centre had supported more than 60 people living with dementia and their family carers over the past two years alone.
“Having seen the success of this, other local communities across Worcestershire and the UK are now looking to set up new Meeting Centres to ensure that more people living with dementia and their families will have the opportunity to enjoy the warmth, friendship and support that they receive when attending a Meeting Centre ”
Anyone wanting to visit the Droitwich Spa Meeting Centre for a taster day should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01905 740950 or 0800 008 6077.