Background: This paper describes the evaluation of the Memory Lane Café service in Victoria, Australia. The Alzheimer's Australia Vic Memory Lane Café model aims to provide a social and educational service to people living with dementia and their carers, family members or friends. Dementia is a serious health issue in Australia, with prevalence estimated at 6.5% of people over 65 years of age. Living with dementia has significant social and psychological ramifications, often negatively affecting quality of life. Social support groups can improve quality of life for people living with dementia.
Methods: The evaluation included focus groups and surveys of people with dementia and their carers, staff consultation, service provider interviews, and researcher observation. The Melbourne Health Mental Health Human Research Ethics Committee approved the project. Participants included people with dementia (aged 60 to 93 years, previously enrolled in the Alzheimer's Australia Vic's six-week Living With Memory Loss Program), their carers, friends and/or family members, staff working in the Cafés, and service providers with links to the Cafés.
Results: This evaluation found that Memory Lane Cafés promote social inclusion, prevent isolation, and improve the social and emotional well-being of attendees. However, Cafés did not meet the needs of all potential attendees.
Conclusions: The evaluation recommended that existing Café services be continued and possibilities for extending the Cafés be explored. Based on evaluation outcomes, the Department of Health Victoria is funding four additional pilot programs in café style support services.