Activities and day care centres can make all the difference to those living with dementia

Our guest writer, Dawn Cox, talks about her experience of running a dementia friendly adult day service in South Manchester and about how the services help those affected by the condition and their loved ones…


“Later Life Living Day Club” is a private Dementia Friendly Adult Day Service located in Northern Moor, South Manchester. We opened this day service five years ago and we’re a mother and daughter team both trained in Health and Social Care.


dementia day care centre activitiesStimulating activities to support individuality, lift mood & retain confidence…

The dementia day service offers various stimulating activities such as arts & crafts, baking, board games, reminiscence work, puzzles, singing, gardening, table tennis, flower arranging and exercises, to name a few.

All of our activities are person-centred and in small groups. We promote and support individuality, lifting mood, rebuilding/retaining confidence in a safe, warm and fun environment.


Supporting everybody’s needs…

At Later Life Living, we always support our clients to make choices. However, not all clients are able to make informed choices because of their level of cognitive ability.

As a result, we may at times have to make small decisions based on our historic knowledge of each individual client’s likes and dislikes.

We designed our service around the needs of the clients and their carers; offering support to both, ensuring everybody’s needs are met by giving carers daily respite and time to themselves, and signposting to other helpful services where required.

All of our clients are referred to us purely by word of mouth.

When our clients first attend Later Life Living, they may be frightened, lack confidence, be depressed have debilitating illnesses. However, they soon gain confidence within our small groups and social interaction increases their social skills and self-worth.


Re-establishing a routine…

Those with dementia can once again feel a part of a friendly group and routine.

Some of our clients call it “going to work”, some say “at the club”. Whatever works for them, works for us.

Our carers say that their loved one is happier in mood and manner, they sleep better, they do not complain of feeling ill as often as they used to, nor need to attend their GP surgery’s, A&E or have to go into hospital.


Dementia café….

Prior to opening “Later Life Living,” we opened and still run a dementia cafe called Larkhill Dementia Cafe, located in Timperley Cheshire. It is run solely by volunteers and initially the cafe was all about dementia.

We would have talks by psychiatrists, pharmacists, various speakers for the “carers” whilst the volunteers would keep those with dementia happily occupied with assorted and varied activities.

As time passed, we realised that the carers didn’t want to know any more about dementia as their whole life revolved around this debilitating illness.

The carers wanted to forget about dementia for a while and have a bit of fun. They wanted close interaction with their loved one rather than the practical issues of everyday life, hence we decided to have activities and entertainment for all.


dementia day care centre entertainment“We ask what entertainment they want and we try to provide it…”

Larkhill Dementia Cafe is also “user-led”, so we ask what activity/ entertainment they want, and we try to provide it.

For example, we’ve had choirs, Morris Dancers, chair yoga, circle dancing, flower arranging, mini theatre, and even the Paranormal Society (as requested).

We have grown from two members to approximately 30.


“As a carer, remember how special you are…”

Of course, due to the nature of the disease there have been many bereavements or loved ones going into residential care.

Their spouses are still able to attend the Dementia Cafe for support for as long as they need to, taking advantage of the counsellor who kindly visits us every two months, (the Cafe is open twice per month on a Saturday morning).

At each session, we also put all carers’ names into a tin and pick out a name to whom we give a token bunch of flowers with a card saying “as a carer, remember how special you are”.

Unlike other organisations, we are not area-restricted and welcome anyone from any area who lives with dementia and it’s challenges to join us.

Last but not least, on the nearest session to November 11th, for the last three years we have a singalong of songs from around war time, whatever money we collect that day we donate to Help for Heroes.


Visit the Later Life Living website to find out more.

Also, find out more about dementia friendly activities, social clubs and day care centres near you here.


We hope you enjoyed the guest post by Dawn. As you can see, the services offered by dementia day care centres are invaluable to those living with dementia and the loved ones involved.

Please comment below to share your own stories about any services that you or your loved one uses.

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