The Wednesday group has between 6 and 8 attenders, it adapts to meet the needs of the attenders, but is based on sharing thoughts and feelings, reminiscing and coming together to have a laugh. Attenders have the opportunity to talk about their past, revisit troubles if they need to, and share their worries about the present.
Skilfully facilitated, attenders are able to support each other. We chat together, using photos and books to reminisce, and sometimes discussing some aspect of the past which is common to all the members of the group.
We sometimes prepare and share lunch which is usually sandwiches or salad and pudding with custard. Care is taken to make sure everyone feels useful and involved with the group, whether slicing cucumber, setting the table or grating cheese.
Over the past year the group has been only women. This was not planned but all have now become firm friends, and provide each other with mutual support carefully facilitated by the staff. These are some of the comments they made about the group:
Kitty said “We sing, dance and make our dinner, we love to come and all get together.”
Tina “Especially anyone on their own, I told my son that arranging for me to come here was the best thing anyone’s ever done for me. You can talk through your problems, even if you just want to tell one person, but coming here helps you forget about any nastiness.”
Joan “I enjoy the company, it helps me get through the week. I call the people here my friends. I like to be helpful and am willing to help in any way. I enjoy the trips out.”
Alice “I feel lonely living on my own, I like talking to people here and I like helping with the pots.”
Sheila said “I’ve been coming here for a while and I really like it. The people are nice. I like the food ”
We also asked the Wednesday group volunteers to contribute: Raj, who is fairly new said “This place feels like a family and we learn a lot from each other”, Helena added “I feel well loved and appreciated here. I get to socialise with people I otherwise would not get to talk to. It has improved my self-confidence”
The comments reflect the feelings of a group of people coming together for mutual support, and having a lot of fun along the way. Many attenders appreciated being able to take part in preparing lunch and washing up. This helps people feel more fulfilled, particularly women who may have spent their lives nurturing and caring for others. Peoples sense of self can be reinforced, to counteract the effects of dementia where it can feel that this is being eroded along with the ability to remain active and useful.