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OBJECTIVES: Support for people with dementia in their communities is neither robust nor consistent in the UK, often bolstered by third sector/grass-roots initiatives facing formidable challenges in sustaining long-term. The Get Real with Meeting Centres project explored factors involved in sustaining one such form of community-based support. This is the second of two linked articles outlining learning from this realist evaluation of Meeting Centres (MCs) for people with dementia and carers, which focusses on findings regarding their operational and strategic running. METHOD: Semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions were conducted with 77 participants across three 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 soft systems methodology and realist logic of analysis. RESULTS: Forty-two 'context-mechanism-outcome' statements were generated, explaining how background circumstances might trigger responses/processes to produce wanted or unwanted outcomes regarding three key areas for MC sustainability: External relationships and collaboration; Internal relationships and practices; and Finances and funding. CONCLUSION: Collaboration is essential to sustaining community-based initiatives such as MCs, particularly between local community and regional level. MCs need to be vigilant in mitigating pressures that create 'mission drift', as targeting a gap in the care pathway and maintaining a person-centred ethos are central to MCs' appeal. Stable, ongoing funding is needed for stable, ongoing community dementia support. More formal recognition of the value of social model community-based initiatives, helped by improved data collection, would encourage more robust and consistent community dementia support.

Original publication




Journal article


Aging Ment Health

Publication Date



1 - 9


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