Elderly care is not an exact science, bu the Essendon Adult Day Care Centre could probably write the book on how to do it well. Or at least that is the opinion of Cecil Rowland, someone who has become a familiar face at the Keilor Road centre over the past 10 years.
Mr Rowland became involved through his late wife Val when she was diagnosed with dementia.
He would accompany Val to the gatherings at the Gannawarra Centre where he would sit at the "boys' end" of the room while the women would chat down the other end.
Mr Rowland would lend a friendly ear to the men who rely on the day centre as a way of staying connected with people from their generation.
"But I got friendly with them and when Val went into the nursing home, the girls asked if I could keep coming along (to the day centre) for a while and chat to the fellas," Mr Rowland said.
"And I have stayed there ever since."
Essendon Adult Day Centre has been widely respected among the elderly community for the past 21 years and focuses on social activities and starting friendships.
Volunteer drivers bus the men and women from their homes to the day centre, where a warm cup of tea and scones are often waiting for them.
The day centre provides day trips that are designed to keep minds sharp and to provide a social outlet for people otherwise confined to their homes.
"They (the day centre staff) are great at organising activities," Mr Rowlands said.
"You have to imagine we are an old group so they have to find things that will amuse us, but also help to educate.
"And they make us do exercise that we allegedly hate, but secretly enjoy. It is good fun."
Mr Rowlands said the centre had become an important part of his life. "I'm in that position where I am sort of half a client now, but have been a volunteer for a number of years," he said.
"For me, I live on my own, my wife has been dead for a number of years and had lived in a nursing home before that. So just to be able to come down and mix with people my own age is great. I try and help where I can and integrate."
The centre's dedicated staff are pivotal to its success, Mr Rowland said.
"They (the staff) are unique people. You'll find any one of them at any stage can go and sit with the clients," he said. "It's like a friendship, for want of a better word where the whole thing revolves around these wonderful people.
Essendon Adult Day Centre recently merged with Doutta Galla Community Health. Doutta Galla acting CEO Dianne Couch said the centre was highly regarded and she was "thrilled that Essendon Adult Day Centre has joined the Doutta Galla family".
The merger will give the centre's clients greater access to Doutta Galla's primary health services such as podiatry, dental and physiotherapy.
This is a new service in Doutta Galla's Primary and Community Health Program.
The day centre operates from the Gannawarra Centre in Keilor Road North Essendon.