The Memory Cafe has also moved to the Altone Park Leisure Centre.

Memory Café expands to Altone

The Swan Valley Memory Café is a dementia community group fostering connection among members.
May 30, 2024
Jacki Elezovich

DEMENTIA community group, the Swan Valley Memory Café, has expanded to a second location at Altone Park Leisure Centre.

Founder and former nurse Jan O’Shea said the aim of the Altone expansion was to bring the café to a wider community following the continuing success of the café’s Middle Swan location, which has been running since 2019.

“There is definitely a need for it, although it can be hard to quantify sometimes. People living with dementia become very isolated, so the place we provide is a safe space where we don’t judge them, and we treat them like human beings,” Ms O’Shea said.

The café received a $10,000 grant from Dementia Australia last year to help continue their work in the community.

This funding provides food and drinks for attendees and pays for guest speakers and artists to come along to entertain the group.

Attendees also have the option to participate in activities such as games, craft, reading and singing while they are at the café, all designed to foster joy and connection among the group.

“We try to change it up every fortnight to make it fun for everyone. Singing and making music is always a really big hit; for some people it’s like connecting with their inner child again,” Ms O’Shea said.

The group also visits local primary schools, including Mount Helena and Emmaus Catholic in Dayton.

“There is a real sense of community there, and it’s great to see them interact with the younger generation, and to see the kids come and talk to them,” Ms O’Shea said.

The original café meetings, hosted at Minchin Centre in Middle Swan, have grown from four attendees to almost 60 in the past three years, and Ms O’Shea said many of these were regulars who returned each fortnight for some stress-free social time.

“Everyone who comes, though they might experience it differently, are all on the same journey of living with dementia, so they can all kind of relate to each other. We get amazing feedback, and people keep coming back because of the friendships and the connections they’ve made.”

The café will now open twice a month at both locations, and Ms O’Shea said she hopes the new location will open the café up to a whole new community.

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