Never too old for playtime

Eldercare and Playgroup SA team up for intergenerational playgroup

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CHILD'S PLAY: Eldercare Evanston Park resident Natalie Lucas draws with children Cooper, Anya and Holly. They are all part of the Little Elders playgroup run by Playgroups SA and aged care provider Eldercare.

CHILD'S PLAY: Eldercare Evanston Park resident Natalie Lucas draws with children Cooper, Anya and Holly. They are all part of the Little Elders playgroup run by Playgroups SA and aged care provider Eldercare.

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New intergenerational playgroup launched in South Australia

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YOU MAY think your days of making home-made playdough are over once your children, and grandchildren, grow up and move on to Lego and iPads.

But residents at a Gawler aged care facility have been getting busy (and messy) with the flour, bicarb of soda and food colouring making masses of the fun squidgy dough for a group of inquisitive little visitors.

As well as concocting play dough, residents at Eldercare's Evanston Park have been chopping up fruit, playing with skittles and colouring in as part of its new intergenerational playgroup program.

Aged care provider Eldercare has teamed up with Playgroup SA to launch the Little Elders program, providing residents an opportunity to engage with local children aged under four.

Eldercare chief executive Jane Pickering said connection is one of the organisation's key values "and Little Elders is a beautiful celebration of this".

GENERATION GAME: Little Elders brings together four generations, residents John and Gretchen Bartsch with daughter Angela, granddaughter Amanda and great-granddaughter Ella.

GENERATION GAME: Little Elders brings together four generations, residents John and Gretchen Bartsch with daughter Angela, granddaughter Amanda and great-granddaughter Ella.

"The playgroup has only been running a short time and we're already seeing relationships, built on warmth and generosity, forming between the residents, the children and their parents."

Eldercare wellbeing and allied health manager Bernard Morrison said Little Elders has brought joy and a greater sense of community to Evanston Park.

"The benefits for both the residents and the children have been remarkable - the laughter that fills the room is truly heart-warming and I'm hearing beautiful stories about the playgroup's success from our lifestyle co-ordinator who leads the sessions," he said.

"One particularly powerful story involved a resident living with dementia who recently took part in a session.

"She had worked as a kindergarten teacher for 20 years and her face just lit up when she was with the children.

"She was completely engaged in the activities.

"One of the parents has also told us how her child wishes she could attend Little Elders at Evanston Park every day and she now greets every older person she meets in the street.

"Stories like these show how intergenerational play can have a significant positive impact on both residents and children."

Playgroup SA chief executive Craig Bradbrook said the benefits of such playgroups were well documented and demand had increased across the state.

"Research shows that playgroups can increase self-esteem, increase dignity and lead to longer lasting joy and happiness," he said.

"The gentleness and caring characteristics witnessed from residents living with dementia and non-verbal residents singing to children are just some examples."

  • Little Elders meets every Wednesday at Eldercare Evanston Park in Gawler. Phone (08) 8521-2222.

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