Translating research into policy: Launch of the National Dementia Café Network in Ireland

The CESRD is delighted that our research has contributed to the development of the National Dementia Café Network in Ireland. The first Dementia Café opened in Dublin in 2011. Since then approximately 26 Dementia Cafés have opened in Ireland. However, despite the increasing popularity of Dementia Cafés in Ireland, in 2018 only 19 cafés were in operation. In order to gain insight and understanding on current practices within Dementia Cafés in Ireland, a research team in the CESRD, comprising of Christine Fitzgerald, Áine Teahan and Eamon O’Shea, conducted an evaluation of Dementia Cafés in Ireland.

This project included in-depth multi-perspective qualitative research capturing views of people with dementia, family carers, co-ordinators and volunteers. Following this qualitative research, a national survey was conducted to gain a more comprehensive overview of how Dementia Cafés were being delivered across Ireland.

Based on the research findings, the research team worked alongside the National Dementia Office to identify a flexible set of core outcomes for Dementia Cafés in Ireland, as well as identifying strengths and challenges identified by café co-ordinators and volunteers. In 2019, the National Dementia Office funded a national Dementia Café co-ordinator role with the aim of creating a national network of Dementia Cafés in Ireland. The national Dementia Café co-ordinator role was taken on by Sinéad Grennan and Grace Dennison in the Engaging Dementia organisation.

Informed by the CESRD research findings and further engagement with Dementia Cafés across Ireland, the Dementia Café co-ordinator created flexible guidelines on best practice for Dementia Cafés. The CESRD supported this process through representation on the project advisory group and additional meetings to further discuss research findings.

The National Dementia Café Network was launched on 17th September 2020, see here for additional information. The research which informed this network has been published in HRB Open.