Creating an 'any-time' dementia-friendly café in Forest Hill in Melbourne

The Forest Hill Dementia-Friendly Community Group has connected people and resources across the Forest Hill suburb in Melbourne to work towards an ‘any-time’ dementia-friendly café. 

While the café is yet to be up and running, early work has proven the concept to be successful, with support from the Forest Hill Chase Shopping Centre Management, as well as the Whitehorse Council and Villa Maria Catholic Homes. 

The aim is to provide an environment which is inclusive of people living with dementia and their family and carers, at any and all times. The working group expects to work with the café to train café staff and management, assess the physical environment, and make recommendations for appropriate changes. Once these have been completed, the working group hopes to promote the café to local people living with dementia in the community, and engage other Forest Hill Chase Shopping Centre businesses on how they too can be dementia-friendly. 

The Forest Hill Dementia-Friendly Community Working Group was formed in 2016 as a pilot project supported by the Inner East Primary Care Partnership, the City of Whitehorse, and Carrington Health. People living with dementia and their carers are heavily involved in the co-design of the pilot and any activities. 

The $15,000 grant from Dementia Australia, as part of the Dementia-Friendly Communities program, has enabled the working group to push forward with their plans for the any-time café concept, and work is ongoing in this space. 

One of the key lessons the group has learnt, and which they wish to share with others aiming to make their community more dementia-friendly, is to allow time to establish rapport and trust to develop a positive work environment. The group works well together, exploring ideas with really beneficial outcomes for everyone, and a greater sense of ownership.

This positive work environment was fostered by reimbursing community members in recognition for their contribution, as well as occasionally engaging an external facilitator with a good understanding of co-design, to help guide the group. 

Are you interested in what this could look like in your community? The first step is to become a Dementia Friend

Find out more at or call our National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500.