日本基督教団 The United Church of Christ in Japan

【June 2022 No.410】Dementia Café in the Church(6)


We often see the phrase, “Dementia Café” nowadays. It may become an important place
where churches serve their communities in the future.

by Ninomiya Shinobu, member
Seki Christ Church
Reformed Church Japan, Gifu Prefecture

There is a building next to Seki Christ Church that previously served as a kindergarten. We didn’t want it to become dilapidated through disuse and discussed what to do with it. We worked together to renovate the building and opened “Church Café, The Vine” in the spring of 2019.

Church Café, The Vine is open just like a real coffeehouse every Thursday afternoon. It also operates as a “dementia café,” named “Grape Café,” on the third Thursday of the month from 10 a.m. for two hours.

Pastor Hashitani Hidenori proposed using the church café as a dementia café, having learned about the concept after his mother developed dementia. The church members supported the idea and started the dementia café, wanting it to be an important service of the church for the community.


Spending Quality Time Together Is the Goal

The staff of Grape Café consists of five or six people, all of whom are Christians, including me. We have a meeting each week before Grape Café to check on what is needed for the following week as well as to study about Dementia Cafés by reading together the book, “To Change the Community: Guidance on How to Set Up and Run a Dementia Café — Basic Rules and Key Points,” written by Yabuki Tomoyuki and Bére Miesen.

I am an occupational therapist and work at the hospital in the ward for elderly patients. The preparation and study meetings held before Grape Café have taught me a lot and helped me realize that I myself had been making several mistakes while working in the hospital.

The staff pray together for 30 minutes before Grape Café begins and then start getting ready by cleaning the tables, making coffee, setting out the sweets, preparing the reception desk, and checking the audio equipment.

While we are doing this, elderly people living in the neighborhood start to arrive with their family caregivers. Church members bring elderly members by car. City hall officials in charge of the welfare of elderly people come and participate with us as well. A short talk on the theme of dementia is given, and 20-30 people always attend.

It is important that those present are perceived as being equal, with everybody being both a receiver and a giver at the same time. People just talk and enjoy refreshments except when a short theme talk is given. They are free to come late or leave early. While the sound of voices never ceases, the ambiance always conveys a feeling of serenity and calmness.

The purpose of Grape Café is not to regain cognitive function but simply to be together and to receive and understand each other. It is hoped that our motto, “Living Together in Community,” will be shared and understood by everyone present. We want to continue Grape Café because we believe “just being together with people affected by dementia” is a way of caring for the elderly members of the community.


Keep Questioning and Studying Together

The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the community since 2020 has caused us consternation on several occasions, and a few times, we even had to cancel Grape Café. We have worked hard to find ways to continue Grape Café, opening windows to ventilate, monitoring body temperature at the reception desk, and serving sweets in bags so that people can take them home. We continue to open Grape Café even now, during the continuing pandemic. We hear that many people in the community look forward to Grape Café.

Grape Café is only starting to function in the community, so we keep asking and pondering, “What is a Dementia Café?” and “What is the meaning of having a Dementia Café in the church?” We are asking ourselves such questions and studying together while continuing Grape Café. (Tr.SK)

Dementia Café was started in the Netherlands in 1997, and it has been spreading throughout many countries in the world. We began it as a service of the church for the community, and I feel the concept of Dementia Café has a close affinity with Christianity. The biblical understanding of being human is that “everyone has equal human dignity whether he/she is in good health or not,” and the same understanding is also very important for Dementia Café. I hope this work will spread in good ways among many places and in many churches all over Japan.       Hashitani Hidenori, pastor of Seki Christ Church

From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), October 2021



二宮  忍 にのみや しのぶ/岐阜 日本キリスト改革派関キリスト教会員



 カフェの1週間前にはスタッフが集い、準備会を開きます。この会で次週のために必要なことを確認するほか、『地域を変える 認知症カフェ企画・運営マニュアル─おさえておきたい原則と継続のポイント』(矢吹知之、ベレ・ミーセン編著、中央法規出版)を交代で朗読し、カフェについての学びを続けています。




(関キリスト教会牧師 橋谷英徳)(信徒の友2021年10月号)

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