Social Engagement Programs



R Place

R place is a robust social engagement program based on the Respite for All model that runs on Volunteer-Power! Once a week volunteers, friends living with dementia and their care partners will have the opportunity to recharge, reconnect and recreate!

Social Engagement Programs like R Place involve fun, creative activities that allow people to connect with each other. Volunteers help to create a stigma free environment that understands the social needs of our friends living with dementia, reinforcing cognitive resilience and helping participants feel a sense of purpose and belonging.

R Place Details

R Place is an innovative program based on the Respite for All model that was started in 2012 by Daphne Johnston at her church in Montgomery, Alabama. The purpose of R Place is threefold: to provide a supportive, creative, and fun space for people living with dementia to come spend time, to provide their caregivers with some well-deserved time for themselves, and to provide volunteers with a meaningful way to share their time and talent. 

Our belief at R Place is that everyone’s life has meaning, and we all have something to contribute. As a community, we create a joyful space to socialize and engage fully in meaningful activities that build cognitive resilience, so we all can thrive together! 

R Place is run by volunteers who build relationships with participants and offer the mental stimulation and social engagement that they need. Volunteers receive robust training on what dementia can look like, and how to meet this community’s specific needs in the moment. This ensures our friends living with dementia are treated equitably, and with kindness! 

R Place is a social model of care.  The program promotes new relationships, group service projects, storytelling, shared meals, small group conversations, guided light exercise, as well as art, music and games. Further, this is a non-medical model. No medications given out during R Place, and participants must be able to meet their own bathroom needs.

R Place sessions are held Wednesdays from 10-2pm at the Seymour Center in Chapel Hill. Please contact Alison Smith at if you would like to learn more.

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Memory Café @ R Place

Memory Cafes can look different depending on their focus, where they’re hosted, and who is involved. They can include creative games, educational activities, or simply some light conversation for social interaction to reduce loneliness and isolation.

Memory Café @ R Place Details

Memory Cafés are intended for Care Partners, friends living with dementia and their caregivers together. Cafés work to build safe, positive communities that reduce stigma associated with neurocognitive issues, as we all learn more about how to provide mutual support for one another.  Memory Cafés foster a sense of curiosity, belonging and purpose that can help people to bounce back from hardships, and build a social network of support.

Memory Café @ R Place is designed to reinforce what’s known as cognitive resilience. The ability to overcome stress associated with cognitive difficulties is something that can be strengthened over time. This includes forming new relationships, group service projects, storytelling, shared meals, small group conversations, guided light exercise, as well as art, music and games.  We can all benefit from spending time in Memory Cafes, as we learn and grow together.

For more information contact Alison Smith at



Dementia Friendly Community

Dementia Friendly Community training is a Social Engagement program offered by the Orange County Department on Aging. The goal is to educate the greater community to recognize and support people living with dementia, providing them an opportunity to live a good quality of life and be a valued member of Age Friendly Orange County.  The Department on Aging collaborated with multiple community partners to update the original Dementia Friendly Business training program.  The new training called Dementia Friendly Community incorporates current strategies from the CDC’s Healthy Brain Initiative Roadmap adopted by the 2022 Dementia-Capable NC Strategic Plan update.  The new Dementia Friendly Community training program now expands its reach to all segments of the community including neighborhood networks to create more Dementia Friendly Partners.

Dementia Friendly Community Details

A Dementia Friendly Community allows people living with dementia to continue to partake in daily activities like visiting the library, going to the bank, dining out and shopping with dignity. It’s important to more than just the individual; People living with dementia are often accompanied by spouses, children or caregivers. Engaging with Dementia Friendly Partners will not only be more enjoyable for everyone, Dementia friends will be more likely to recommend them to others!

It's as easy as …

  1. Agree to become a Dementia Friendly Partner.
  2. Send customer facing staff to an information session to help them identify and assist people who may have dementia or cognitive impairment.
  3. Show people you’re Dementia Friendly by displaying our logo on your window. When businesses become Dementia Friendly, our entire community is a better place!

For more information contact Alison Smith at

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