Seasons Waterford West have a long-standing partnership with Little Bunyas Learning Education Centre of Excellence and Seasons Mango Hill residents enjoy regular visits to Goodstart Early Learning Centre North Lakes – Winn Street. These monthly visits are a much-anticipated date on the activity calendar for Seasons residents and the children alike.
An evaluative study of the benefits of participating in intergenerational playgroups in aged care, carried out by the University of Western Sydney, 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.
These intergenerational visits were shown to provide meaningful activities to all participants, providing opportunities for residents to keep active and engaged, while the children received growth and development opportunities through interacting with the residents.
These results have been mirrored in the Seasons Aged Care visits. Robyn Burke, Early Childhood Teacher at Goodstart Winn Street, says it’s been a joy to see the growing interaction and relationships formed between their children and the Seasons residents.
“The residents have been to us four or five times. The last couple of times we’ve broken the residents up into small groups and a couple of residents go into each of the rooms and do activities with each of the kids. We’ve tried to do activities that give the residents something to take back with them,” says Robyn.
“We have a few of the ladies come in and play dolls with the girls and it’s just beautiful to see the connection. It’s so good for the kids.”
Robyn’s colleague Bec agrees and says that she’s seen a number of changes in the children in her room following the visits.
“It teaches them to be gentle and to be kind. It also teaches them that elderly people are a valuable part of our community,” says Bec.
“The change in the kids in our room is amazing. The first time the residents came out we all did a painting of the residents that they could take back and they were so appreciative and it’s so lovely that we can give back to them. But I think in some ways we get back even more as a team and as a room. It’s lovely to see that connection between the generations.
“My daughter didn’t have anything like this and she doesn’t have any grandparents living close by, so something like this would have been so lovely.”
Seasons Mango Hill Lifestyle Coordinator Judy Waterworth said the residents also get a lot out of their monthly visits and have enjoyed getting to know the children.
“The first day we got there we heard the voices yelling out ‘here’s the nannas’. We could hear it before we even got in the door. And then John walked in and they said ‘Oh, there’s a poppy!’ They were so excited and that excitement makes the residents feel great.”
The Goodstart children visited Mango Hill in late November for a special Christmas concert and were visibly excited to see their special adopted grandparents and put on a show for them.
Robyn says that the relationship the children and residents built up throughout the year had helped the children feel confident.
“Some of the kids are really shy and they went straight up to the residents and shook their hands.”
Shiree Vollbrecht, Early Childhood Teacher at Little Bunyas Learning Education Centre of Excellence, says that their partnership with Seasons Waterford West is an important part of their program.
“We love visiting Seasons every month and doing different activities with the residents. We’ve been doing the visits for 18 months now and we can really see the value for the children.
“Our visits encourage confidence and interaction with others as the children share the experience with their peers and get experience with interacting with older people in a new social situation,” says Shiree.
“It really is beautiful to watch.”