The ABC premiered its new documentary series “Old People’s Home For 4 Year Olds” last night, and the early reviews indicate that it’s shaping up to be unmissable TV.
The series follow an inter-generational experiment among pre-school children and residents from a nearby retirement village. The experiment aims to improve the health and wellbeing of the older people, through participation in a range of activities.
At Banksia Lodge , our residential aged care facility in Broulee, inter-generational activities have been in place for a number of years, and the joy the visits of children bring to our residents is self-evident in the smiles that can be seen. The visits aren’t restricted to pre-school children, but extend to primary and high school aged children as well, offering a wide variety of opportunities to share interests and activities.
The Broulee Bunyips playgroup includes parents or carers and their children, aged from newborn to 6 years old. The playgroup visits monthly and they usually enjoy a musical activity with residents, including singing, clapping, musical instruments, and even dance. The pre-schoolers love to sing their favourite nursery rhymes, to the delight of the Banksia residents. During the playgroup visits, some residents have revealed hidden talents, such as the ability to keep children spellbound while telling stories.
Broulee Public School students, aged between 5 and 8, visit weekly during term time and join with residents while practicing their reading. Residents are able to help with tricky words, and children enjoy reading out loud. Other activities that residents enjoy with this group include dot to dot puzzles and colouring-in.
High School students from St Peters Anglican College have visited regularly this year, with students joining residents for card games like Uno and Hoy. The students also enjoyed simply chatting with residents and asking them about their lives, while one talented student even played a short piano concert for residents.
All of the research points towards a positive outcome for both generations. According to research in Perth it’s been proven that there can be fantastic benefits for each generation, with children having a better sense of who they are and where they’ve come from, and older participants showing an increase in positivity in their lives, as well as improvements in health.
Meantime, research undertaken at Griffith University recently, indicates that inter-generational care helps older people form special bonds with children, improves their moods and helps them reconnect with the past.
Finally, a University of Wollongong study showed that older people participating in Inter-generational playgroups in residential aged care, experienced an uplift in mood and increased alertness, while parents described the interaction as a social asset for their children and themselves.
At Banksia Lodge, no formal research has been undertaken. However Banksia’s Director of Care Hannah Wellington has noticed benefits to our residents including:
- Improved focus and interest during school visits, from those living with dementia
- Residents actively look forward to meeting and interacting with children
- Plenty of smiles all around
And there can be no greater endorsement of inter-generational programs than this comment from a Broulee Public School student, after their visit to Banksia: “I made a new friend today.”