"Everyone can be who they are"

A Thursday afternoon in September, the sun is shining from the blue sky and late summer can be glimpsed. The group rooms of the Bürgertreffs-Ost on Ernst-Reuter-Platz in Dachau are large and airy, high windows let in light and the walls are decorated with colorful pictures.

Nicole Heinzmann finishes the preparations half an hour before the start of the group lesson. The cake is waiting on the sideboard, and the boxes with felt and wooden beads, string and scissors have already been prepared. Not too early, because the first guests are already arriving. After all, there are almost a dozen elderly people who sit down at the U-shaped tables. Most of these people have dementia, and that’s exactly why they came to the community center today: To experience a little variety in everyday life together with Nicole Heinzmann and other caregivers in “Café Vergissmeinnicht”, a dementia café for mobile care in the Dachau district.

People with other disabilities are also welcome

Since 2019, the mobile care has been offering weekly group lessons, mainly for people with dementia, but citizens with other disabilities are also welcome. At first there was only one “Café Forget-Me-Not”, now there are seven different groups with a total of around 50 participants throughout the district.

Nicole Heinzmann leads four of these groups each week. The 59-year-old has a permanent position in mobile care and works full-time as a carer. In the mornings she looks after individual patients and in the afternoons she looks after her “guests”, as she calls the dementia patients. The group lessons are about maintaining contacts, you are almost “a small family”, as Heinzmann says. In the group “everyone can be who they are”, the guests understand each other “in their own way” and are also helpful to each other. “They look forward to this particular afternoon from week to week,” says Heinzmann, and the group takes a lot of things with humor.

When all participants have arrived, the program begins, as always, with creative design – “we don’t say handicrafts”, as Nicole Heinzmann emphasizes, because they are “not a kindergarten”. When the guests start working on today’s project, a small guardian angel made of felt and wooden beads, it becomes clear what Heinzmann means by humor: There is a lot of laughter, the participants joke with each other, they clearly enjoy the task.

The three-hour program also includes exercise and cognitive training

After the creative design there is coffee and cake in the group lessons, followed by cognitive training for the guests, for example a word puzzle. At the end of the three-hour program, the participants should move around a bit, often doing exercises while sitting. The age of the participants is between 64 and 98 years, they have a care level of 1 to 3. They are entitled to the care insurance company to cover the costs for the group lesson from care level 1. In general, “every social class and every clientele” is welcome, as Heinzmann emphasizes.

The Café Vergissmeinnicht does not only help the participants themselves, but also the relatives should “be relieved a bit”, says Heinzmann, because of course it is not easy to care for someone at home. In addition to the group hours, meetings with relatives and a transport service for the patients are offered – so the café can help everyone who is directly or indirectly affected by dementia.

You can get more information about the Café Vergissmeinnicht from the mobile care Dachau or at https://cafe-vergissmeinnicht-dachau.de/

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