Meeting of minds: pilot of Dutch service centre

From our Care and Cure research magazine of Spring 2016, find out more about how the UK are learning from the Netherlands approach to dementia care.

Over the past 20 years, the Netherlands has rolled out 125 Meeting Centres to provide person-centred care for people with mild to moderate dementia and family carers in a community venue. This system is based on the Adaptation-Coping model put forward by Professor Rose-Marie Dröes in 1991, which gives insight into the different ways people deal with their dementia and helps families to understand their behaviour. 

The person with dementia is offered individually tailored support to empower them and provide an opportunity to live an active, social, stimulating and meaningful life. Alongside this, carers or families are provided with information and practical, emotional and social support. People with dementia and carers contribute ideas to the list of services and activities available at the Meeting Centre, as well as relevant information to share with other service users.

The benefits of these Meeting Centres were demonstrated in two controlled studies at centres in the Netherlands. Compared to those using regular day care, after seven months of participation in the Meeting Centres, participants with dementia showed fewer behavioural and mood problems, increased activity, less unsocial and depressed behaviour, and a higher self-esteem. Over the course of the study, only four per cent of the Meeting Centre participants were admitted to a nursing home compared to 30 per cent of usual day care participants. Carers taking part generally felt more competent and less burdened than carers using day care as respite only.

The centres had clear benefits to people in the Netherlands but it remains to be seen if it would be as effective in countries with different cultures and systems of health and social care. Alzheimer's Society has set up two pilot centres in Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire, and Leominster in Herefordshire, which will be evaluated as part of an EU-funded research project called MeetingDEM to see whether this service model can bring the same benefits to people with dementia and their carers living in the UK.

'Alzheimer's Society is thrilled to be the implementation partner for the UK's first Meeting Centres. We will be delivering the Adaptation-Coping model, as used across the Netherlands, to ensure that people with dementia and their carers receive support around all the ways dementia affects life, not just the health of the individual with the condition,' says Gill Read, Services Manager.

The UK Meeting Centres will be evaluated and monitored by the Association for Dementia Studies at the University of Worcester, in collaboration with University College London and the London School of Economics. The overarching aim is to evaluate the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of Meeting Centres in terms of the behaviour, mood and quality of life of people living with dementia, the sense of competence of their carers, and any delay in moving into residential care. The evaluation is also being carried out with Meeting Centres that are being set up in Poland and Italy.