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Locally Supported by 

Wilfred & Hunter

Our Story  

It all started when founder and Registered Nurse Kirsty Porter, was holidaying in the UK in January 2016.  Curious, after reading a newspaper article about a dementia café in a small village Wymondham, Norfolk, Kirsty visited this socialising hub specifically created to supports the needs of local couples and individuals living with dementia in the local community.  

After meeting Founder, Trevor Brown, and Secretary, Rita Harris, and learning about their 9 year history together, it was obvious the overwhelming value the Pabulum Café had on the whole community.  The most obvious and exciting was the precious autonomy the group enjoyed.  They were welcoming select healthcare professional into their café to present about their services or products.   

 

Trevor Brown, Rita Harris and Kirsty PorterTrevor Brown, Rita Harris and Kirsty Porter

 Trevor Brown, Rita Harris & Kirsty Porter 

 To find out more about the Pabulum Café, click their logo below:

 

 

Armed with this remarkable experience and new inspiration, Kirsty returned to Australia to see if this kind of community response could indeed work in her own community of Blackburn, Melbourne in Australia.  

 

After speaking with some community leaders, the interest of creating a community centred dementia social hub gathered momentum and soon enough, many families and local businesses were keen get involved.  None more so then our local community advocate, Charity Dickens, who inspired the momentum of this café since the very beginning. 

 

The first organisation to jump on board and offer the space to create the café was One. Community Church, Blackburn. They were quick to offer the use of any function room inside their beautiful and newly renovated church.

 

Click here to go to the One. Community website.

 

With more and more people getting involved, the same questions arose; who would actually come, what would the café look like, what help do people need (if any at all), and what would the café be called?  Would it be too confronting to use the word 'dementia' in the café's name?

 

So we threw stigma to the wind and called it The Umbrella Dementia Café!  We invited the local newspaper to write a story about what we were doing and from that article (below), Kirsty was invited chat more about the café on local radio.  (click the 3WBC logo below to hear the interview).  

 

Click 3WBC logo for radio interview:

 

We went on to develop, print and distribute thousands of pamphlets to our local GP's, neurologists, pharmacist, local retirement villages and neighbourhood community centres.  

 

Not everyone understood the purpose of our idea, but we were determined this would work.  

 

Our local real estate agents, Fletchers, donated their 'Journey Books'.  A hard cover book full of beautiful photos detailing the history of our local community since the turn of the 20th century!  Perfect for memory stimulation and conversation!  Fletchers have since donated a book to every guest who attends the café. 

 

 

We received overwhelming support from our local florist, Wilfred & Hunter who not only advertised our café event, but donated a massive bucket of unsold flowers, and has continued to do so for every café since!  

  

 

We contacted many authors specifically writing about Alzheimer's and Caregiving, requesting copies of their books.  Two amazing authors responded to our calls; Kathryn Harrison from Canada and Carole Brecht, from the US.  Both women were more than happy to send us copies of their books as resources for our guests who would attended the café.  'Weed's In Nana's Garden' by Kathryn Harrison can now be purchased from Our Shop with 100% profits going to support the café.  Carole's book, 'The Artistry of Caregiving', can be purchased here, and through the Amazon Association Club, Amazon gives $1 to the Umbrella Dementia Cafés for every book purchased. 

 

 

We connected with our local Registered Music Therapist, Amy Thomas, (who happens to be department head at the Monash Children's Hospital!).   Amy was quick to donate her time in support of this café idea, offered a number of music resources for the day, and was excited to create 1:1 music therapy session with all our guests.  

 

 

We also connected with two wonderful organisations; Alzheimer's Association, Victoria and Home Instead Eastern Suburbs.  Both organisations attended the day, bringing with them bags of printed support material and their best wishes. 

 

Finally, we needed helpers and catering.

 

Catering was supplied by 8 local families who lovingly baked and prepared a beautiful morning tea.  

 

And our volunteers came in all ages!  

 

The amazing and fiercely enthusiastic adult volunteers Kirsty, Charity, Chris, Jean, Natalie, Rachel and Sandra set up the room to look like a welcoming café, they served the food and drinks and most importantly, welcomed everyone who walked in the door with open arms.   See our volunteers page.

 

 And then there was the children who attended!

 

We partnered with our incredibly community-focused Blackburn Primary School who offered the assistance of six Grade 6 children whose role included welcoming guests as they arrived at the door, walking them in, sitting together, exchange funny stories and they walking the elders back to their cars after the café! 

 

We were ready.

 

On the morning of the 25th October, 2016, The Umbrella Dementia Café  opened its doors for the first time and welcomed 30 local individuals and couples living with dementia who met each other for the first time and shared a cuppa and cake. 

 

 

To say the least, it was a highly effective and an incredibly emotional morning for all who attended and helped that day.    

 

It was clear to us all, how under supported this group felt, and the significant societal isolation they had all found themselves in.  

 

So, as a group of mums, dads, school children, musicians, church leaders and local businesses we decided to keep hosting these café events every month and providing as much support, resource and networking as possible to help our community elders live better with dementia.  

 

Since that first café, we have successful hosted one every month and the results have been equally remarkable each time. We’ve made a video after that day which was posted to Kirsty's blog page and You Tube (Click here to watch it).

 

In 2017, we welcomed a new benefactor to our little group, Menarock Aged Care Services.  Their donations have helped a great deal in allowing us to deliver a continuous café program. 

Click logo to go to Menarock’s website 

 

Through the partnership with One. Community Church, every month we have enjoyed the full use of the beautiful spaces the church offers.  With the support of local volunteers, and the sales of the books and donations in Our Shop the café is fast becoming a sustainable support group.  

 

We are very proud of our community peer-support group who feel more empowered and unified simply by meeting each month, enjoying each other's company, sharing personal experiences and feeling comfortable to express their fears and joys.  Together, we have a better understanding of 'what is dementia?', and more importantly, we are all slowing learning how to cope better at home with a dementia disease.   

 

If you would like to donate to or join our social group, please email enquiries@umbrelladementiacafes.com.au  or call Kirsty Porter
on 0434 245 315