Bridging generations: Aged care homes welcome toddlers to bring joy and comfort to residents

Jun 20, 2023
Perth aged care residence's intergenerational program sparks joy and creates lasting bonds. Source: Instagram @oryxcommunities

It’s back to daycare for the aged care residents at Perth’s The Queenslea as a new heartwarming intergenerational program brings the young and the young at heart together for a day of laughter and shared activities.

Picture the scene: toddlers from the Ngala Early Learning and Development Service join elderly residents for a day of singing children’s songs and doing crafts.

The early learning centre is conveniently situated within the same premises as the aged care residence, where they share a courtyard. The arrangement allows both the children and the elderly to have frequent encounters and catch glimpses of each other through the fence.

Then, once a week, the Queenslea residents are graciously invited by their little Ngala “neighbours” for shared activities.


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Speaking to the ABC, Queenslea’s lifestyle coordinator Melissa Taylor says the program follows a well-structured schedule, spanning six-week cycles to allow every resident to have the opportunity to join in.

“It’s around seven neighbours with 14 children and each week has a different theme,” she said.

“Today was numeracy, where they were measuring and paying for groceries with some paper money, and forming connections with the neighbours who were guiding them.”


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Taylor also adds that its been “beautiful” seeing the aged care residents and toddlers “come out of their shells” during the program.

“With the residents, it’s interesting because at first they can be hesitant but once you get them there not only do their facial expressions change, but they’re more mobile, they start walking around and engaging with the children, it’s amazing,” she said

According to the aged care resident’s Chief Wellbeing Officer, Aimée Gullotto, the program’s impact on its elderly residents is carefully assessed using “outcome measures” throughout the six-week duration.

These measures look at various aspects of the residents’ wellbeing, including mood and physical health.

“We also look at what their mood might be pre- and post-immediate sessions so we can gauge the benefit of the program,” Gullotto said.


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Based on 2019 statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare a significant 87 per cent of elderly care residents experience one or more mental or behavioural conditions, with nearly 50 per cent suffering from depression.

According to Professor Sunil Bhar, a psychology expert from Swinburne University, the prevalence of mental health conditions is alarmingly high in aged care facilities to the extent that they are often referred to as “mental health geriatric hospitals”.

However, he emphasises that intergenerational programs have proven to be incredibly effective at boosting seniors’ mental health.

“What we’re learning, time and time again, is that when you’re older, you have such a need to pass all the lessons that you’ve learned, the wisdom, to younger people,” Professor Bhar said.

Professor Bhar strongly supports the positive impact of intergenerational playgroups. In his view, these programs should be an integral and essential component of aged care facility programs throughout the country.

“Just like you have bingo groups, why not have intergenerational programs?”

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