Sunflower Café Odiham – Tea, company and practical advice each Wednesday

The Sunflower Café Dementia Awareness and Information Day
The volunteers who run the Sunflower Café organised a dementia awareness and information day which provided an opportunity for voluntary groups, healthcare professionals, local library and business to show case the wide ranging support and services available to dementia suffers and their carers.
Dementia may be regarded as the new ‘C’ word and even now there is perceived to be a considerable stigma attached to the various forms, including Alzheimer’s.    However, like research into cancer, our growing understanding of how dementia develops and progresses can have positive benefits not only to those diagnosed with the condition but also in the wider arena of health care.
Well managed hydration is a very good example.   Research has shown that small cups of tea or other beverages are more likely to be completely consumed in comparison with drinks served in large cups or mugs.
These smaller drinks, given more frequently, improve hydration and, significantly studies have shown that individuals who are well hydrated are less likely to suffer from falls – thus improving quality of health and avoiding the pain and discomfort of broken hips.

Blue dinner plates are another example of a small change having a significant effect.  The theory is that against white crockery, food such as mashed potato, cod, cauliflower etc. disappears into the background.  By using blue plates all food is clearly visible and, again, studies have shown amazing results with consumption of meals improving by a staggering 30%.

Dementia Friendly High Streets
Increasingly, businesses are making their premises ‘dementia friendly’ by making small but significant steps to make accessing their shops and offices easier for those with dementia who are still able to live independent lives or for those shopping with their carers.
Improving signage and training staff to recognise the signs an individual with dementia may show can help to make a visit to the shops a pleasant experience.     An example of a small change which can make a considerable difference is changing the colour of the entrance mat.  It is not unusual for a black door mat to be perceived as a hole in the floor to a person with dementia.    As a consequence they may not step onto or across the mat for fear of falling.
Twiddle Muffs
As we improve our understanding we can develop methods and ‘tools’ to ameliorate some of the symptoms.  A fantastic example of creative problem solving are Twiddle Muffs.
These curious hand knitted woollen muffs have an assortment of buttons, ribbons and other items stitched into the finished item.  This provides a focus of attention for fidgety fingers.

Local Library
Library lending has extended its service to include not only a wide range of books on the subject of dementia but also books from yesteryear which can stimulate conversation and promote recall.
Additionally a variety of games and puzzles are available to borrow.    At the Sunflower Café stand the Hampshire County Council Library service also provided a selection of scent bottles containing an assortment of smells from the present and past including rose, germolene and ‘the dentist’.

Sunflower Café volunteer Elaine and a visitor (pictured above) were interested to see the wide variety of books, games and sensory items available at local Hampshire County Council libraries was amused by the content of one sample bottle.


A Dementia Friendly Café near You
Increasing awareness of dementia has prompted volunteers to set up similar cafe projects around the country.  The Forget-Me-Not group in Hartley Wintney has been running for a number of years and is very popular with residents and carers.

The Sunflower Café
The Sunflower Café opened its doors in September 2016 at the Vine Church, London Road, Odiham and each Wednesday between 2.00 and 4.00 offers tea and friendly company to those with dementia and their carers.   It is a joint community project funded by the Mother’s Union and The Vine Church, Odiham.
The volunteers who run the café often have personal experience of caring for a family member and can offer practical advice or listen sympathetically.
The Café is named after the practice of putting a picture of a sunflower over the bed of a person with dementia who is in a local hospital for another clinical reason.   This enables the staff to take the effects of dementia into account when administering the patients care
The Sunflower Café volunteers liaise with the local Doctors Surgery in Odiham and Hook, the Odiham Cottage Hospital, All Saints Church, The Vine Church, Mothers Union, the Alzheimer’s Society and other groups and charities to enable them to offer a full range of information and support each Wednesday.

Contact Sunflower

The Sunflower Café offers free refreshments and activities to people living with dementia, or memory loss, their carers, family and friends.

For more information contact


Top Tip

From with wife of a man newly diagnosed with dementia:

“Don’t sweat the small stuff”


Contact your Doctor or local surgery for more information about local support groups and support services.

There are a growing number of websites which can provide information about living with dementia.