I recently went to meet with Roar, an organisation in Paisley that offers a variety of community activities to keep older people well and prevent isolation. Nicola, the general manager, explained that Roar need to be aware that several people they work with may have dementia but can be unwilling to discuss this. Instead, Roar offers support and provides fun social activities whilst being mindful of the various needs of older people, including those with dementia.

After learning more about Roar’s (huge variety of) projects, I went in to have a chat with the people who attend the Tuesday afternoon’s Reels and Spiels group. The group watch a film each week with a related quiz halfway and I was really struck by how much the group felt like a big group of friends simply having fun together, having a chat and enjoying a biscuit with a cup of tea. I spoke with a woman who has dementia who said how much she enjoyed the group and it was easy to see why.

Nicola shared with me how important it is that people with dementia feel safe and happy when attending groups like Reels and Spiels. If good community links are established early on, then someone with dementia will be able to benefit from a stronger support network with those they feel they can trust and rely on.

Roar also provides practical support for things like cooking. Roar’s Come Dine with Me group meets every Friday night when members come together to cook and eat together. Members of the group learn and share their cooking skills, enjoy each other’s company and are able to then take food home to enjoy over the weekend. Importantly, the group provides a vital opportunity for widowed men to learn how to cook for themselves, often being advised by others attending the group who want to share their knowledge. The group leader Kate also provides suggestions for practical changes members can make – such as buying talking scales and new sharper knives – to ensure that older people can continue enjoying cooking and baking for as long as possible.

Roar also cleverly uses food to encourage older people to reminisce, which can provide real psychological benefits for those with dementia. Memories and Meals uses plates and foods from different time periods to start discussions around food and encourage members to think back over their lives.

Over my time at Roar, I heard many stories of brilliant work being done to benefit older people and people with dementia. In particular, a story of a woman with severe dementia stuck in my mind after my visit. The woman unfortunately had very low self-confidence and attended a group at Roar where indoor bowling was provided. The woman proved herself to be incredibly skilled at this and was hugely congratulated by the group which improved her confidence no end. The woman’s dementia has now exacerbated further but, thanks to having this experience at the right time, she now knows she can rely on Roar and view them as a safe place to be.

Thank you again to Roar for sharing your work with me.