Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

OBJECTIVES: There is a need to improve the provision and reach of community services for people living with dementia, a goal in which community-based support groups can play a key role. The Get Real with Meeting Centres project aimed to explore factors involved in the success and sustainability of Meeting Centres (MCs) a form of community-based support proliferating in the UK. This is the first of two linked articles outlining learning from this realist evaluation of MCs, which focusses on findings around reach and membership. METHOD: Semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions were conducted with 77 participants across three case study MC sites in England and Wales, including people living with dementia, informal carers, staff, volunteers, trustees, and supporting professionals/practitioners. Data were themed, then analysed using both soft systems methodology and realist logic of analysis. RESULTS: Fifty-two 'context-mechanism-outcome' statements were generated, explaining how background circumstances might trigger responses/processes to produce wanted or unwanted outcomes regarding four key areas for MC sustainability: Referrals and the dementia care pathway; Reaching people and membership; Carer engagement and benefit; and Venue and location. CONCLUSION: Strong links with formal services and a well-functioning dementia care pathway are essential to sustaining community-based group support such as MCs; group support is also well-placed to assist work to improve pathway issues. Clarity of offer (including benefit to carers), and a wide range of activities, are key to appeal and reach; transport to, and use of, venue are challenges, as are pressures to support people with more advanced dementia.

Original publication




Journal article


Aging Ment Health

Publication Date



1 - 9


Dementia, community support, post-diagnosis, psycho-social, social isolation