Our online meeting point evolved from Dementia Matters Here (DMH) taking part in the weekly UK Meeting Centre Programme’s networking meeting. We decided we needed to respond to the pandemic by helping to reduce isolation for people affected by dementia, and felt the best way we could do this was to launch an online meeting point. Other meeting centres were successfully launching online sessions and DMH was invited along to observe a number of these.
Having sat in on a number of groups, it appeared that in sessions where there were a lot of members taking part, people with dementia were struggling to process what was happening and often looked to be overwhelmed. We also noted that with large numbers of participants it was harder for the facilitator to manage the group; especially when doing an activity. From our observations, we decided that we would keep numbers to a maximum of twelve participants for any one session and run more sessions to meet demand.
So far the format has proved successful in allowing all the members to be able to take a part in the session and has created an intimacy which appears to help people be more relaxed and consequently enjoy themselves. Members also appear to relate better to the other members when there are fewer present, especially where they have not met one another before. We have had a couple of sessions where there have only been four participants and these have turned out to be some of the best we’ve run, with members really opening up about themselves, their lives and past careers.