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UK Meeting Centres Support Programme Social club for people and families affected by dementia


The UK Meeting Centres Support Programme (UK MCSP)

A Meeting Centre is a local resource, operating out of ordinary community buildings, that offers on-going warm and friendly expert support to people and families affected by dementia. At the heart of the Meeting Centre is a social club where people meet to have fun, talk to others and get help that focuses on what they need. Meeting Centres are based on sound research evidence on what helps people to cope well in adjusting to living with the symptoms and changes that dementia brings.

A Meeting Centre is for people affected by mild to moderate dementia and their families. Family carers get assistance with practical and emotional issues, as well as being able to contribute to social club activities. Some family members use the opportunity to have a break from their caring role. Couples consulting sessions, social activities and excursions also help people to enjoy life together.

What is the problem this innovation solves?

There is a drive across the UK to diagnose dementia early and to raise diagnosis rates. However there can be limited post-diagnostic support. Sometimes this is may be for two hours every other week for example and choice can be limited.

Provision is often for either the person with dementia or the carer but less often for both together.

Lack of post-diagnostic support can mean that people are not able to liver well in the community and people can end up in a crisis situation which is distressing for them and costly for health and social care.


A diagnosis of dementia is a huge challenge to come to terms with. If people make good emotional, social and practical adjustment to dementia following diagnosis, then it is likely that they will experience fewer distressing symptoms later and will be able to live at home for longer with a better quality of life for them and their families. Help and support for families and people affected by dementia is often fragmented. People often feel overwhelmed and confused about where to get help. Meeting Centres are a way of providing accessible support on a local level to act against this.

The Meeting Centre supports people (members and family members) in helping them cope with the consequences of living with dementia and to make the best possible lifestyle adjustments for them as individuals.

Evidence base

The meeting centres are for people with dementia and carers and what happens to them is based on the interests of the people who attend - they are member driven. The meeting centres are based on sound research from the past 20 years from the UK and from the Netherlands - they are evidence based.  The programme is about supporting people to adjust to the change that Dementia brings both the carer and the person with dementia.  Evidence can be found here https://www.meetingdem.eu/publications/publicatons-mcsp/

The number of people living with dementia who were very satisfied with the activity programme increased significantly over time between 3 months and 6 months.  The large majority of care givers (83.5%) reported that they felt less burdened after 3 months of participation with the programme.  After 6 months, this increase to 91%.  Focus group analysis showed that people with dementia and care givers in all centres reported an improvement in their emotional balance.

Expected impact

By the end of the three years, the UK MCSP will deliver: 

• Between 15 and 20 new Meeting Centres opened or under development across the UK for people and families affected by dementia that can act as demonstrator sites and centres of learning for others.

• Greater understanding from sharing the learning of how Meeting Centres function over time in different communities, jurisdictions, locations, rural and urban via the following:
          o UK MCSP National Reference Group – a range of representatives from organisations from across the UK with an interest in the needs of people living with dementia and including people directly affected by dementia guiding and informing the national programme and strategy and disseminating the learning from Meeting Centres.
          o Early Adopters UK MCSP Core Group - representatives with significant experience of organising and running the existing Meeting Centres and will be joined by those who are actively developing a MC.

Stage/spread (where it is/how much is there?)

At the moment there are 13 Meeting Centres in the UK

Droitwich Spa in Worcestershire
Leominster in Herefordshire
Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire
Brecon in Powys
Ystradgynlais in Powys
Llandrindod Wells in Powys
Lutterworth in Leicestershire
Newton in Powys
Northampton in Northamptonshire
Oldbury in Sandwell
Kirriemuir in Angus
Purbeck in Dorset
Cheltnham in Gloustershire

There are 150 Meeting Centres in the Netherlands

What would councils/health organisations/local areas need to do or have in place to enable it to happen?

Dementia is a key priority for both NHS England and the Government. In February 2015 the Prime Minister launched his Challenge on Dementia 2020, which set out to build on the achievements of the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia 2012-2015. Herefordshire and Worcestershire Dementia Strategy includes Meeting Centres.

Many towns have initiated Dementia Friendly Communities. Meeting Centres build on this and the Dutch have a well-developed community process for developing new Meeting Centres that engages all local stakeholders in both the local development and longer-term implementation.
They generally start from a care organisation or group of people recognising that there is a need for more structured support for people affected by dementia in a local community. It is not really important who comes up with the idea to initiate a Meeting Centre, because collaboration with other organisations is essential to getting the initiative off the ground.

What would kill it?

Lack of funding and/or lack of recognition that good post-diagnostic support can put in good foundations to help live well in the community for longer, avoid distress and be cost-effective.

Where to go for more information

For further information and/or to contact us for support, please visit

• https://www.worcester.ac.uk/discover/uk-meeting-centres-support-programme.html and https://www.worc.ac.uk/discover/meetingdem-jpnd.html; or
• email meetingcentres@worc.ac.uk