What does inclusion mean for individuals with dementia?
In Tokyo recently, the desire to create a more inclusive society for those living with dementia led to an innovative concept: a “pop-up” restaurant that hired people living with dementia as wait staff.
Customers of the pop-up restaurant visited with the full knowledge that their orders might be incorrect. It provided a freedom to both customers and wait staff to simply enjoy and participate fully in the experience.
The restaurant — called The Restaurant of Order Mistakes — was created inside Maggie’s Tokyo, an organization that provides support for cancer patients and their loved ones. Between June 2 and June 4, Maggie’s Tokyo temporarily became The Restaurant of Order Mistakes.
Creators of the pop-up restaurant said the exercise was intended to increase awareness of dementia. In addition, organizers wanted to help the general public better relate to individuals living with dementia and to think differently about their abilities.
In a “regular” restaurant, a customer might become annoyed if a waitperson gets an order wrong. However, at The Restaurant of Order Mistakes, customers and staff members alike knew that a high likelihood existed of incorrect orders — and everyone accepted the possibility, seeing it more as a new adventure.
The restaurant followed a concept that was first implemented at Texas’ Hugs Cafe, which employs individuals with developmental disabilities and mental challenges. That restaurant was created to help people with disabilities develop a sense of purpose and the feeling that they could make contributions. In addition, the Hugs Cafe was intended to raise awareness about the challenges faced by individuals with special needs.
Meals Become a Pleasant Surprise
Mizuho Kudo, a Japanese food blogger, participated in a dinner at The Restaurant of Order Mistakes. She noted that she had placed an order for a burger but instead received dumplings — which she said were delicious. This is an example of entering into the experience, meeting people where they are, and seeing all the ways they can contribute.
Along with customers, servers at The Restaurant of Order Mistakes seemed to enjoy working in the unusual service setting. Representatives of Maggie’s Tokyo noted that the exercise was so successful that they’ll host another such pop-up restaurant in honor of September’s World Alzheimer’s Day.
A Philosophy Focusing on Engagement
Elder Care Alliance is committed to providing memory care programs that encourage engagement. We believe that everyone can learn and contribute, no matter the cognitive challenges.
We incorporate the philosophy of I’m Still Here™, which involves using innovative methods to create inclusivity for individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. We focus on the strengths that remain.
All Elder Care Alliance assisted living communities provide high-quality care services — including engaging, inclusive activities — for individuals with memory impairment. We are passionate about sharing what we know with the wider community through education programs and innovative arts programs like Movie Moments.