Curious about our Cafe?

Paula Turner shares some thoughts on Curiosity Cafe.

Curisoisty Smorgasbord.JPEG

Curiosity Cafe is a dementia positive programme for people living with dementia, their families and friends. It is facilitated by myself and Frances Anderson at The Dry Water Arts Centre in Amble Northumberland.

It is less of a cafe (although we do all enjoy a fantastic shared lunch each week) and more about the art of curating a space collectively. What is it that you need NOW and HOW might we make that a possibility.

Much is made of person centred care and yet the majority of creative programmes/services for people living with dementia offer a one size fits all programme. An example of this would be an approach whereby everyone is encouraged to do one activity altogether with little regard for individual preferences and often with no viable alternative on offer.

Person centred care should be characterised by an approach that genuinely places the person at the centre of their own care enabling them to express their wants, needs and opinions. Individuals can be supported and enabled via inclusive decision making, equality of communication and mutual respect to shape their activity programme.

It does take time; smaller groups are therefore essential. Spend just a moment thinking about the phrase person centred and it is as clear as clear can be that small and personal is where we need to have our focus and our resources.

The Dementia Friends training programme emphasizes that if you meet one person living with dementia have met one person living with dementia. In other words they are still a person with a unique set of beliefs , ideals, passions, aspirations likes and dislikes. 

If we are serious about being an inclusive and dementia friendly society then the services on offer have to change along with attitudes.

The carers at Curiosity Cafe are very clear that they too are living with dementia every waking moment. Becoming a full time carer vastly reduces individual freedom and spontaneity. For this reason Curiosity Cafe has always been offered to the people who directly experience the day to day challenges of living with dementia whether this be living with the  diagnosis or as a carer.

For this reason at at Curiosity Cafe you will find the following on our menu;


  • Consultation

  • Listening

  • Suggestion

Main Course

  • Choice - including the choice not to participate

  • Self selection of resources and equipment

  • Body time not clock time

  • Flux and Flow

Afters (pudding if you’re posh!)

  • Creativity

  • Joy

  • Spontaneity

  • Unexpected outcomes

  • Synchronicity

"We are are so pleased to be part of the Curiosity Cafe. It allows us to take part in a fully inclusive group, together, yet gives us the opportunity to individually express ourselves. Nothing we do is ever incorrect, I cannot thank you enough as it allows me time to myself within the group enjoying activities I could not have imagined."
Curiosity Cafe Participant