Autumnaged Care

Can intergenerational care improve nursing homes?

Autumnaged Care

Can intergenerational care improve nursing homes?

Exciting initiatives across the country are pursuing new ways of doing aged care. A facility on the NSW south coast is running a childcare out of its dementia unit and from all reports the process is going very well.

Experts are saying that innovative approaches like this program are likely to change the future landscape of aged care for the better.

While many challenges lay ahead, seeing the benefits of intergenerational care shines a light for future possibilities in care.

Playtime That Uplifts

 

Due to government regulations, the co-ordinator of the program operates as a family day care provider.

Three mornings a week, children are brought to the dementia ward where mixed play happens for part of the day.

Speaking into what they’ve been seeing, aged care and child care staff say that there has been so much joy from both the older residents and the very young.

One of the residents, Sam, has advanced dementia and yet staff have seen him enthusiastically play and interact with the children.

Hayley, a member of staff says that the children bring out positive qualities in their senior friends, “they bring out the nurturer, the carer, the grandparent, the parent they were to their own children.”

Diversional therapist, Sheridan say that the positive benefits from the intergeneral care flow on even when the children have to leave.

“They [residents] feel really good about themselves. So when they [the children] leave, their demeanour for the whole day is uplifted.”

Cognitive Benefits And Confidence

 

In an encouraging sign of cognitive stimulation, staff have been seeing that residents have been increasingly remembering the days of the week.

“Realising I can remember it’s Tuesday, which is so positive for their self-esteem.”

“The dementia just seems to go. When they’re with the kids they lose the fear of having dementia, like they have to perform. They can pick up a book and start reading, it doesn’t matter if they get a word wrong, the kids don’t know anyway.”

Rolling Out Programs Broadly

 

Academics and experts from Griffith University are currently working on a national trial to facilitate intergenerational care being rolled out on a wider scale.

Professor Anika Fitzgerald says that there is evidence supporting wide reaching social impacts of mixing the young and old.

Studies have shown that mixing 3-5 year olds with older people, they are less likely to develop delinquent behaviour as teenagers.

The cognitive, social and human benefits at local and national levels of intergenerational care has substantial potential.

If the intergenerational model is fostered from all levels of government and facilities, the aged care sector could see really exciting, positive and sustainable change.

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