Key message: Don’t assume people cannot connect digitally. If people have a good reason to use new technology they are more likely to be open to adopting new ways of connecting and staying active.
Memory Tree Café
Mr R is living with a diagnosis of dementia. He also has diabetes and limited mobility. Before the pandemic, Mr R attended our weekly Memory Tree Café in Thornton Heath with his wife to support him; both in terms of getting there and during the session. From conversations with his wife it was clear that getting to the session was sometimes a struggle and he would sometimes become agitated at having to go out but it was evident that he enjoyed the sessions very much when he attended.
Over the months Mr R has become more smiley and vocal. At first, when Mr R attended the café it appeared as if he was non-verbal but this is clearly not the case and he is now able to call staff members by name.
At first, the team were uncertain about the success of converting the Memory Tree Café to an online session. They were concerned people may find it very difficult, confusing and people may not be able to interact in the same way as they do in person. We decided to try the sessions to see the response from clients and their carers.
Since the Zoom sessions have begun Mr R always has a big smile and wave for everyone on the screen and enjoys listening to the chat. He participates with the physical activity enthusiastically. His confidence is building with the new technology.
Mr R also now attends other Age UK Croydon activities, including the Men’s Exercise class. This session is perfect for Mr R because our specialist instructor has the skills and ability to adapt to different physical abilities. And because the group is smaller than some of our mixed-gender sessions, it enables the instructor to give the attention required to ensure Mr R achieves full benefit from the session including exercise and social interaction.
This also supports his wife, Mrs R, to be more socially included and achieve peace of mind knowing that both she and her husband have activities to look forward to each week.
Mrs R has gained a lot from attending these online sessions. It gives her a chance to support her husband with positive and uplifting activities, and over lockdown this has been a life-line. She enjoys the social aspect and often asks questions about other services for her and her husband to join.
Mrs R says: “Many thanks for all your help, we are very happy with the Zoom classes at home. I don’t know what would have happened otherwise, without these all he does is sleep.”