The Rainbow Café is an exciting initiative from Switchboard for LGBTQ people living with dementia or memory loss and their friends, families and carers. The aim is to raise awareness of dementia within the LGBTQ community and hope that both LGBT and non-LGBT services will have a better understanding of the specific and unique needs of people living with dementia.
The Rainbow Café was launched with an opening event in February at Brooke Mead (the new extra care housing accommodation opened by Brighton and Hove City Council) in Albion Street, Brighton. As part of this launch, the awarding winning play ‘The Purple List: A Gay Dementia Venture’, was performed by Ian Baxter. This was a 35 minute one man performance exploring the highs and lows of the lives of the same sex couple, Sam and Derek who live with the reality of dementia. The performance was followed by a Q&A session, a chance to hear about the Rainbow Café and a buffet lunch generously provided by Lunch Positive, a lunch club for those affected by HIV.
Since the launch the Rainbow Café has met monthly and has so far included a mixture of practical activities, conversation and information such as drama improvisation, a Q&A session about dementia with an occupational therapist and an illustrated talk about the film Carol. For the last two months they have held sessions at Phoenix Gallery to make use of exhibits there from Brighton Digital Festival and Photo Fringe.
Participants have been a mixture of people living with dementia and their carers, and also those interested to learn more about the condition and memory loss. As a result of this they’ve decided to offer two strands to the Rainbow Cafe, one with a mixture of activities for people with dementia and their carers and then another one for people concerned about memory loss to find out more from health professionals.
None of us want to think too much about ageing or what happens to us later on as we need extra care but the Rainbow Cafe hopes to address some of these fears. In addition to providing a drop-in space for people with dementia to attend it also is setting up information sessions to answer some of the questions people might have regarding what happens as we get older and encounter memory loss and who might provide support for us.
The first information session is on 21 November, a session for LGBTQ people with concerns over memory loss and dementia. It will cover the following areas:
- What is the difference between cognitive decline due to ageing and dementia?
- When should people take their concerns or worries further?
- If they think that they or a loved one may have dementia what do they do?
- What is the process for diagnosis?
The Memory Assessment Service will be present, as well as a specialist dementia occupational therapist and an admiral dementia nurse to answer questions.
Some LGBTQ people are estranged from their families or might not want them involved in their healthcare, they may well be single and have a ‘family of choice’ instead. So a further information session is to address concerns faced by people who might not have a partner or family member available to them to support them through later care. How in a situation where there is no ‘next of kin’ can a friend be recognised as the person’s carer or point of contact? How might a friend get Power of Attorney? How does a person with dementia ensure their care needs are directed by a trusted friend?
There are two more sessions in the pipeline for the next 12 months too, one about HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND), a condition which can bring on early onset dementia.There will be another around the specific issues that older trans people may have within later life care settings and their particular needs and concerns. They want to ensure that the trans voice is included within discussions around dementia.
Please email Clare at Switchboard firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more details about the Information Sessions.
If you or a loved one have a diagnosis of dementia or a waiting for one and would like to come along to the monthly Rainbow Cafe please call Clare on 07395 425710.