Herd mentality a win-win at aged care preschool

Childcare centre in aged care home brings together young and old

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Studies, such as this one by the intergenerational project team at Griffith University, have shown bringing seniors and children together in a learning environment can be beneficial to all participants. Photo: Griffith University.

Studies, such as this one by the intergenerational project team at Griffith University, have shown bringing seniors and children together in a learning environment can be beneficial to all participants. Photo: Griffith University.

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The daycare centre is being built at Andrew Kerr Care nursing home

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Young and elderly Victorians are set to learn under the same roof together, with construction underway on a new daycare centre being built in a Melbourne aged care home.

Kinder kids and aged care residents will mingle and interact together at the new 66-place intergenerational learning centre, being built as part of Mornington's Andrew Kerr Care nursing home.

Residents will take part in activities including arts and crafts, music and reading for an hour a day.

The kinder program, which is expected to be up and running by mid-year, is being run by The Herd Intergenerational Learning Centre.

The Herd co-director Anna Glumac said the project, which involves the licensed child care centre sharing the same roof as an aged care facility, is the first of its kind in Australia.

"The shared-roof nature of our facility will afford residents the freedom and opportunity to experience the joy of watching children in play whenever they're feeling lonely by visiting and spending time in a special viewing lounge that will overlook some of the children's play spaces," she said.

"Essentially, residents will be able to sit in a lounge-room type environment and feel enlivened by seeing little people playing in a way that might be reminiscent of the precious years when they had their own young children."

Throughout the week children the childcare centre will have daily visits with residents. Activities will include art, gardening, music, exercise and recreational games.

Ms Glumac said research, such as that being done by the intergenerational project team at Griffith University, shows both participating children and aged care residents benefit from intergenerational care programs.

She said benefits for residents may include an increase in physical activity and sense of purpose and may help alleviate levels of depression and loneliness - all of which can help ward off cognitive decline.

Ms Glumac added children also can get an enhanced sense of belonging by forming strong and close connections with their older friends and develop positive attitudes toward ageing and the elderly.

"Through regular contact with older adults, young children learn to feel comfortable around, and understanding of, the needs of those who have a disability and who may require aids to assist with their mobility, hearing or sight."

For the broader community, The Herd hopes break down stereotypes and barriers that exist between generations and broaden understanding of other age groups.

"By acting as a model and giving tours and support for other individuals and organisations interested in providing an intergenerational model of care, we endeavour to ensure that the impact of our project extends beyond the residents and children involved in our program," she added.

Andrew Kerr Care received $500,000 from the state government towards the $2.1m project.

For more details visit theherdilc.com.au or andrewkerr.com.au

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