Intergenerational partnerships in aged care are a hot topic in the wake of the popular ABC Series Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds. Across our Seasons communities we have a number of intergenerational partnerships from playgroups through to high school mentoring programs which are having a positive impact on everyone involved.
This positive impact was mirrored by an evaluative study carried out by the University of Western Sydney, which revealed that pairing pre-school aged children with aged care residents offered a number of mutual benefits.
These included making connections between people, new perspectives for children and aged care participants and promotion of increased awareness and understanding between the younger and older generations as they observed and reached out to one another.
Seasons Sinnamon Park has recently started an intergenerational playgroup and it’s already a favourite with residents who are enjoying interacting with local parents and their children who come in for a play.
Other communities have long-standing partnerships with local early learning centres with reciprocal visits taking place monthly.
Lifestyle coordinator at Seasons Caloundra, Annette Balfour says the visits from the children from Green Leaves Early Learning Centre are highly anticipated.
“Last visit the kids brought along their favourite books for our residents to read to them. Some of our residents with dementia came along and the smiles on their faces (both kids and residents) made it so worthwhile. One lady that doesn’t speak a lot of English was laughing so much, I thought she was going to cry!” says Annette.
Residents from Seasons Mango Hill also enjoy monthly visits with Good Start Child Care at North Lakes.
“We visit the centre monthly and they will also come to us for craft activities and entertain residents with little. When we visit them we break up into three groups, so we can visit the four-year-olds, the 2-3-year-olds and the pre kindy group. The children will do craft, games and play outside with residents,” says Seasons Mango Hill lifestyle coordinator Judy Waterworth.
“For Grandparents Day, we invited the kids from the centre and we had about 50 grandchildren and great-children come along as well. Everyone had a great morning – it’s so lovely seeing the connection between residents and the younger generation.”
Seasons communities are finding that the benefits of intergenerational partnerships don’t stop once children go to school with connections with local primary and high school years providing residents and students with meaningful connections and purpose.
“We also have a partnership with St Benedict’s School where they come to us and put on a Christmas concert and then we get invited to go to them for the matinee and dress rehearsal of their annual show. We also got together with them to knit scarves and beanies for the homeless for winter,” says Judy.
“We are just beginning a pen pal project with a local grade 4 class at another local school – the children write letters to the residents and residents respond. The residents involved have enjoyed the experience.”
Into the high school years, Seasons residents are taking on a mentoring role with local teenagers. Residents from Seasons Waterford West have recently started a weekly ‘Silver Angels’ mentor program in partnership with Windaroo Valley State High School and Rotary Club of Beenleigh.
The group of 12 residents visit a group of 22 students at the school and take part in a range of reading and social skill building activities aimed at fostering supportive relationships between young and older community members. They also enjoy sharing stories and having laughs over morning tea.
According to Seasons Waterford West’s Community Consultant Bernadette Bradford, the residents involved in the project are enjoying the interaction and the meaningful relationships they’re building.
“After the first week all the residents expressed how much they enjoyed the session. It has really given them a purpose and they all look forward to Tuesdays. They love it,” says Bernadette.
Seasons Bribie Island is also enjoying visits from a small group of Bribie High School students as part of their social skills program.
According to Seasons Bribie Island Community Consultant Chris Metcalfe, the five-week program is aimed at instilling life skills and building interaction between the teenagers and the residents.
“Two groups of girls will be visiting on Wednesdays and Thursdays for the next 5 weeks. On their recent visit, they helped with morning tea service and had fun with some residents at Bingo. Our residents loved having them here and there were lots of smiles all round,” says Chris.