Ireland's First “Memory Hut” Opened at Tallaght University Hospital

Memory Hut LaunchSeptember 24th 2018 Tallaght University Hospital (TUH) have just announced the opening of a ‘Memory Hut’. This is the first hospital based drop-in service to focus on brain health and dementia in Ireland. This novel collaboration of staff from the specialist memory service, TUH volunteers and the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland has created an informal weekly “drop-in or drop-by” service for people living with memory difficulties, members of the public, staff, patients and their families right at the heart of TUH. 

It is hoped that this valuable service will promote a greater awareness of early and sustained approaches to brain health and dementia prevention as well as giving vital positive support to those living with dementia in our community and those who support them. The ‘Memory Hut’ is open in the main hospital atrium from 2pm–4pm every Wednesday, staffed by trained volunteers.

Commenting on the opening of the ‘Memory Hut’ Professor Sean Kennelly Consultant Physician in Geriatric Medicine “This innovative collaborative initiative between the specialist memory service, our Hospital Volunteers and the Alzheimer’s society of Ireland is the first of its kind in Ireland. It creates a friendly and informal area where people living with dementia and those who support them, can come and ask questions they may often put off asking, or forget to ask, when in our clinic. It also promotes the very important message that over a third of cases of dementia are preventable - with the right lifestyle choices.”

The Alzheimer Society of Ireland CEO Pat McLoughlin said: “This Memory Hut is a fantastic initiative for people who have dementia and their family members to be able to find out information in an informal setting. As we mark World Alzheimer’s Month, it is still very clear that a stigma and negativity often surrounds dementia. People can sometimes still feel afraid or embarrassed about talking about finding out information about dementia which can cause unnecessary loneliness for many people. There is no cure for dementia. However, many people who have dementia can do well and live well in their community – but they have to be supported in order to do this. This is an excellent support for people with dementia in order for them to live as good a life as possible.”  

To support World Alzheimer’s Month, an opportunity to focus awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds dementia, TUH staff, volunteers and the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland have undertaken a talk in the community. Professor Kennelly also participated in a number of media interviews to contribute to this awareness raising. The opening of the Memory Hut is a longer term commitment to ensure there is an opportunity every week of the year for people to learn more about brain health and dementia.

Available advice and Information at the Hut includes:

General brain health advice
- What to do to support our brains to age successfully- especially dispelling the myths and giving the facts on the relevance of lifestyle, exercise, and dietary interventions
- Stresses the importance of social engagement and signposts to community outlets for stimulation therapy

Dementia and memory concerns
- Information on how to go about seeking a diagnosis
- Educational resources for the person living with dementia and their supportive others
- Information on assistive technology to support independent living
- Issues around diagnosis and symptom management
- Advice about maximising good health e.g. managing stress / awareness of mood
- Future planning-  legal and financial advice
- Driving concerns and advice
- Living well with dementia and maintaining independence and personhood
- Signposting to available supports

For further information on Dementia please refer to:

Podcast Interview with Susan Mitchell, Prof Sean Kennelly and Dr. Suzanne Timmons, consultant geriatrician and the clinical lead of the HSE's national dementia office

Editors Notes 

About Tallaght University Hospital
Tallaght University Hospital is one of Ireland’s largest acute teaching hospitals, providing child-health, adult, mental health and age-related healthcare on one site. The hospital has 495 adult beds and 67 paediatric bed with over 3,000 people on staff. The Hospital is a provider of local, regional and national specialities. It is also a national urology centre, the second largest provider of dialysis services in the country and a regional orthopaedic trauma centre.

Tallaght University Hospital is one of the two main teaching hospitals of Trinity College Dublin - specialising in the training and professional development of staff in areas such as nursing, health and social care professionals, emergency medicine and surgery, amongst many others. Tallaght University Hospital is uniquely part of both the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group and the Children’s Hospital Group which serves a population of over 1.2 million across seven counties.

A new satellite centre is to be built at Tallaght University Hospital as part of the National Children’s Hospital project as a key element of an integrated clinical network for paediatric services nationally. 

The Hospital’s Emergency Departments catered for 50,286 Adult Attendances and 32,886 Paediatric Attendances in 2017. A further 291,483 patients were treated through the Hospital’s adult and paediatric outpatient clinics in 2017. The Hospital’s operations are supported by 200 general practitioners in surrounding communities. 

Professor Sean Kennelly
Professor Sean Kennelly is a consultant physician in geriatric medicine and clinical associate professor of medical gerontology in Trinity College Dublin (TCD).

With more than 15 years’ experience caring for people living with dementia, he is clinical director of the memory assessment service in Tallaght University Hospital.