From the March to April 2021, residents at ACH Group Milpara residential care home participated in a pilot of the intergenerational program ‘Child Care in Aged Care’.
‘Child Care in Aged Care’, a first of its kind in South Australia, brought residents, children at a TafeSA’s City West Child Care Centre, and University of South Australia Occupational Therapy students together virtually.
The program supported by Office for Ageing Well, SA Health forms part of South Australia’s Plan for Ageing Well 2020-2025, and is inspired by the popular ABC TV show ‘Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds’.
The pilot program was very successful with the creation of new, meaningful relationships one of the many benefits experienced by residents. Relationships and social connections created through chatting, singing and participating in activities with the children was also beneficial to residents’ social and emotional wellbeing.
Milpara resident Bessie Dickins took part in the sessions, held across five weeks, and said she really enjoyed the sessions.
“It gives us a chance to understand how children are growing up, which is so different to the way we grew up and it’s really, really interesting to see how things are evolving,” she said.
“My favourite part is being involved with the children. I’ve also enjoyed the art activities because I am really interested in art. I have dabbled in art for many years, and it gives me purpose.
“I would like to see more programs like this if possible, I think it helps us to relax a little bit and remember what we used to be able to do – we can tend to forget sometimes.”
Occupational Therapy students from UniSA co-designed the weekly sessions, with input sought from Milpara’s staff and residents, and staff and children from the child care centre on what they would like to do in the sessions.
Each session was purposely planned and structured by the university students with children and residents engaging in virtual activities including sharing stories, singing, and playing games. Every week there was a different theme such as the garden, cooking, drama, and sport.
There was also the opportunity for residents to pass on their knowledge and revisit past hobbies by taking part in activities within the program, which included potting plants and cake decoration.
While inspired by the popular ABC TV show, the program is a first in South Australia as it is co-designed, held virtually and based on contemporary best-practices around intergenerational connections.
Findings from the trial will contribute to the current body of knowledge on how aged care providers and other organisations can promote meaningful intergenerational connections, and how these can bring important benefits to people of all ages.
The goal is to roll out Child Care in Aged Care routinely across all ACH Group residential care homes.