Six-year-old Alexa Yeo is helping 76-year-old Manny Vasiliou make some Christmas decorations while across the room, four-year-old Tom Powick is helping 82-year-old Nancy Michaelis do the same.
"You see the very old and the very young coming together. They work very well together," Nancy said.
They are all enjoying some Christmas spirit at the first Community Cafe in Canberra, a place where people who have been diagnosed with dementia engage in meaningful activities and experiences. They meet up regularly with the children from a local childcare centre to take on fun tasks together and then finish off the session with some yoga, mindfulness and meditation.
The first local Community Cafe was founded by registered nurse Nicole Smith, who spent a decade working in aged care. The cafe is hosted at the Burrangiri Aged Care Respite Centre in Rivett. The children visit from the nearby Noah's Ark centre. A second cafe for early onset dementia or recently diagnosed people is also held at Beyond Q bookstore in Weston.
Ms Smith is passionate about helping to foster caring communities, ensuring people with dementia are not left socially isolated. The cafe is a safe place for people with dementia - and their carers and their family - to relax and be themselves. "We don't talk about dementia unless someone wants to," Ms Smith said.
Local businesses sponsor each cafe gathering so it can be free for the participants. "Everyone I approach says, 'Yes'. I'm blown away by the generosity," she said.
Ms Smith is hoping for funding to spread the model throughout Canberra. "It's a chance to meet others, enjoy social activities and have a great day out," she said.
Burrangiri day centre manager Ashley Carrington said she had cried with happiness to see the effect the Community Cafe on participants.
"They talk more, they're a lot happier, they're more engaged," she said.
The children have also grown to love their outings and even write letters to their older friends between visits to let them know how much they miss them.
Ms Smith intends to publish research next year on the impact of the Community Cafe on dementia patients as part of her Masters studies in gerontology (the study of old age).
More details at communitycafe.com.au