News: Affective Empathy in action: Dementia ‘pub’ and café open in Lancashire trust

A mock pub complete with beer pumps and a dartboard has been created by Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust to help patients with dementia feel at home and boost their wellbeing reports The Nursing Times

With my work being concerned with  training in the effective use of empathy and it’s role on psychological wellbeing, what a lovely story to report on a great example of ‘affective empathy. Empathy is more complicated than most people realise, in how we understand some one else and how we respond to them. How we protect ourselves and what erodes empathy and causes us as a species, hard wired to be empathic, to suppress this useful communication resource. The responsive part of empathy, known as ‘affective empathy’ is beautifully demonstrated in this story of a Lancashire Trust that has resonated and responded in actions to support the well-being of dementia patients.3010525_EastLancs_pub

As reported by The Nursing Times, the facility – named Iggy’s Bar – has been designed to look as much like a real pub as possible to create a familiar environment for dementia sufferers.

3010524_EastLancs_dementia_pubAt the same time, the trust also launched a traditional-style mock cafe – Maureen’s Cafe – with a counter, cake stands and outdoor seating.

Hospital staff hope the pub and cafe – both named after former patients – will help prompt conversation, keep people engaged and stimulate memories.

“The wards have worked closely with patients and carers to create a comforting and familiar environment for patients and their visitor to meet, socialise and talk,” said Sheila Kasaven, senior matron at The Harbour.

“We’re really excited by them and so are our service users. We hope they will play a positive role in helping reduce the stress of being in hospital,” she said.

The pub and cafe will be used for reminiscence therapy, which helps people with dementia make connections between the past and present and encourages communication and social skills.

Finally said the Nursing Times: The pub is sited in an enclosed garden area linked to the male ward, while the cafe is in an enclosed garden linked to the female ward. Both can accommodate about half a dozen people at a time.

So by looking into the world of dementia patients, imagining and here is the key…….responding well, this Trust has created something that will mean something in real human terms. A little normality maybe, in a world of constant loss for these people.

Congratulations to all involved with this endeavour and for a great example of the power of empathy. Of course, despite being female, having growing up in a pub, I may have to visit Iggy’s bar rather than Maureen’s cafe if I ever end up at this Lancashire Trust in years to come!! 

Original source: The Nursing Times

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