Building bridges that bring laughter to two generations Intergeneration Program (1)
Opening a childcare centre in an aged care facility? Having young people residing in an aged care facility? These wild dreams of the past have already become a reality. In fact, a lot of research and studies have pointed to the benefits of Intergenerational Programs. While reading the success stories happening overseas, I am glad to discover that CASS has been implementing Intergenerational Programs in its daily services.
CASS provides a variety of services to the local community through its aged care services, children services such as long day care and family day care along with many other activities provided to community groups. Our CASS Campsie Child Care Centre is situated right next to the Activity Hall where activities for the seniors are regularly held. The close proximity of the two groups have brought natural interaction between the aged and the young. When the seniors are dancing in the hall, children are often attracted to the music and they enjoy seeing the elderlies’ dance moves. On the other hand, the seniors are drawn to the children’s laughter while they are on their way to the hall. When the CASS Residential Aged Care facility began operation, the Intergenerational Program was formally put into practice by having the preschool age children visit the Aged Care facility which is located directly behind the Centre.
It was seen as a beneficial and promising initiative which our other two child care centres wanted to be a part of as well. With such an important network of diverse groups available within the organisation, Gumnut at Forum took the opportunity to collaborate with the CASS Korean Community Group at West Ryde by establishing an Intergenerational Program. In conjunction with this, Gumnut also formed a second partnership with an external Aged Care Facility located in St Leonards, Glenwood Aged Care.
The Centre Director of Gumnut explained the benefits of Intergenerational Programs. She said, “There is a diverse amount of information and research available to provide evidence for positive outcomes for Intergenerational Programs and curriculums. Intergenerational Programs are social vehicles that offer younger and older generations the opportunity to interact and become engaged in issues concerning our society. These programs purposefully bring together people of different generations in ongoing, mutually beneficial, planned activities, designed to achieve program goals. Through Intergenerational Programs people of all ages share their talents and resources, supporting each other in relationships that benefit both the individuals and the community. Young and old are viewed as assets, not problems to be solved.”
“Benefits for older adults involved in the program include enhanced socialisation where isolation in their later years is prevented through increased interactions with children and youth. Learning is stimulated when older adults learn new innovations and technologies from their younger counterparts. They want to continue to use the skills they have acquired in their lifetimes as well as acquire new ones.”
“There is an increase in emotional support where regular participation in structured social and productive activities and membership in large social networks have been shown to independently benefit health and functional outcomes as people age. Finally, older adults with dementia or other cognitive impairments experience more positive effect during interactions with children than they did during non-intergenerational activities.”
“The benefits for youth and children are equally as important where volunteerism and civic engagement and being involved in the community include developing skills, values, and a sense of empowerment, leadership and citizenship. It will also enable them to develop positive attitudes towards aging, a sense of purpose and community service. Volunteering also promotes good self-esteem.”
Understanding the benefits for both generations, the Centre Director and her team was keen to implement the Intergeneration Program. Meetings were held with the Aged Care Directors to discuss plans and establish goals. The families of the children also played an important part in the decision making process, where consent and feedback was also sought. How did parents feel about the program? What really happened when the children were mixed with the seniors? How was the program actually implemented? (To be continued)