Crossing the generations - Pop up café enhancing student learning

Dementia cafe

On the morning of Tuesday 14th November 2017 the School of Nursing and Midwifery held its first Dementia Café.

Aims were twofold:

  • Firstly to add a social date in the diary for people living with dementia and their family carers
  •  Secondly to provide an opportunity for our students to learn from the experiences of people living with dementia.

Held in the foyer of the ICOSS centre in the heart of the University Campus the café was visited by 10 people living with dementia and 10 family members. 12 students from our nursing and our health and human sciences courses volunteered, along with 4 members of teaching staff and our business and administration apprentice.

Some of the student arrived slightly nervous and not sure what to expect, but excelled themselves in the ways that they engaged in conversation and ensured everyone who attended felt listened to, had a laugh and left well supplied with tea, coffee and cake. More than one student commented on the importance of seeing older people with dementia living well and enjoying themselves. Working in a healthcare environment we tend to see people with dementia when difficulties arise and when they are ill. Opportunities like the café provide students with a more balanced perspective on health and well-being.

Dementia cafe 3      Dementia cafe 2

The evaluations also provided valuable suggestions from people with dementia, family members and students on ways to improve and develop any future cafes.

Dementia cafe 4

The café was funded through an Alumni Project Grant to help develop a Dementia Friendly School of Nursing and Midwifery. Other initiatives include the delivery of Dementia Friends Sessions to raise awareness of dementia amongst students, staff and Alumni. We have also hosted Haylo Theatre Company to perform their fabulous and thought provoking play Over the Garden Fence.

Dementia cafe 5

Dementia cafe 6


Students were involved in facilitating the cafe on the day but we are aiming for a much more student led event in the future, enabling students to contribute to the ‘Civic University’ ideal. A regular café could provide students an alternative and innovative ‘classroom’ experience, where people with dementia and family carers become teachers. Additionally it provides a space to challenge some of the intergenerational myths surrounding ‘people with dementia’ as well as those held about ‘students and young people’. 

For more information contact Jane Mckeown