Carinity residents young at heart

At Carinity’s aged care communities, the sound of children’s laughter, friendly competition and happy chatter often rings through the halls. Students from local primary schools, high schools, and kindergartens regularly visit the aged care residents, bringing joy, excitement and a little good-natured chaos through the doors.

While centenarians and teenagers might not seem to have much in common, intergenerational programs bring enormous benefits and learning opportunities for both residents and young people by building a deeper understanding of each other.

Carinity Clifford House resident, Robin, taking on Kedron State High School students at their annual bocce game
Carinity Clifford House aged care resident, Robin, taking on Kedron State High School students at their annual bocce game.

Students from Kedron State High School are regular visitors at nearby Carinity Clifford House. Members of the school’s Interact Club join the residents in a wide range of activities, including concerts, magic acts, delivering parcels, playing bingo and even playing bocce – where the residents remain undefeated.

The regular visits are a highlight for students and residents alike.

“The residents have lots of stories to tell. It’s lovely to connect and talk face to face with them,” student Roisin said.

For resident Alex, the visits are a chance to stay connected with the world outside.

“They make us feel like we’re part of a larger community,” he said. “I feel like a new man interacting with the young people of today. It’s such a gift.”

According to Experienced Senior Teacher, Kathleen Maguire, the visits improve mental and emotional health for residents and students alike and provide an opportunity for students to approach the world with an open mind, helping to develop their critical and creative thinking as they’re encouraged to see perspectives from a different generational point of view.

“This interaction helps to build understanding by both the young and old and promotes inclusivity and empathy. Some of our students do not have their grandparents close by and the visits help to strengthen the connections between generations,” Kathleen said.

And while the students love hearing the stories of when the residents were younger and how things were different for them, it also shines a light on how to navigate the more challenging parts of their own lives with grace.

“They are so resilient,” noted Jemma, a visiting Kedron student. “Even as they’re going through their health challenges, they still give things a go. They’re always happy to be there.”

In Laidley, primary school students from Prenzlau State School love being able to visit Carinity Karinya Place. The community’s Activities Officer, Kerrie Kirk, said the visits boost resident self-esteem, motivation and engagement.

Kindergarten children are regular visitors to Carinity aged care communities, as part of intergenerational activities
Kindergarten children are regular visitors to Carinity aged care communities, as part of intergenerational activities.

“The residents enjoy being able to share their life experiences and stories with the younger generation, sharing what it was like for them growing up and how things have changed. The projects and shared activities also increase their sense of purpose and accomplishment.”

School Principal, Jo Odorici, sees the visits as an important opportunity to foster a greater appreciation for diversity and differing perspectives, which helps to bridge the generational gap. The year 4, 5 and 6 students learn to communicate effectively, practice active listening, and understand the importance of empathy.

“The interaction with older Australians provides students with a holistic educational experience, encompassing social, cultural, and emotional aspects. It contributes to the development of well-rounded individuals with a broader understanding of society and a heightened sense of social responsibility,” Ms Odorici explains.

“It builds a sense of companionship for our students and the residents. Many of the students look forward to reading to the residents, who are a supportive, encouraging audience. Doing craft activities, and even balloon volleyball, are also highlights.”

While residents share their lifetime of wisdom, social skills and stories of the past, the children bring new insights and experiences from today’s childhood, including an insight into how technology shapes their world. For all participants, social connection, friendship and the opportunity to be seen and have their story heard is a benefit that transcends age.

Activities Officer Kerrie sees the positive impact on residents instantly, with the arrival of the young students helping to bring some less active residents out of their shells.

“We have residents that have really engaged with the students. The joy and enthusiasm of the children uplifts their spirits,” she said.

Two Carinity services come together to learn, share and play at Carinity Wishart Gardens. Residents welcome high school students from Carinity Education Southside every Friday.

Carinity Wishart Gardens resident Joyce Margaret Ellis is full of smiles when Carinity Education Southside students visit each month.
Carinity Wishart Gardens resident Joyce Margaret Ellis is full of smiles when Carinity Education Southside students visit each month.

“I look forward to it each week,” said resident Elizabeth Vogler. “I love being back in touch with young people as I used to be a teacher. The girls are delightful, well-mannered and lots of fun.”

While their presence brings joy and excitement for the residents, it’s the reciprocity that makes the visits truly special. With youth and seniors often suffering from feelings of isolation, social connections are important on both sides.

Southside student Chekaela enjoys seeing the residents have fun playing games.

“I feel so happy after coming here for a visit. We talk about the fun things they did when they were our age, and I’ve learnt that they are all very unique people,” Cheakaela said.

Engaging across the generations also allows the residents and students to look beyond ageist stereotypes to break down preconceived ideologies, leading to a stronger, more inclusive community.

According to Kerrie Kirk, the visits act as an antidote to some of the negativity that is directed towards young people in the news.

“The residents are consistently delighted by how polite and well-behaved the students are, despite the bad rap they’ve given in the media,” Kerrie says.

It’s not just the older students who enjoy visiting. Residents at Carinity Brownesholme in Highfields have started monthly visits with the kindergarten children from Freckles Kindy.

Diversional Therapist, Jeannie Healy, said the residents adore having the pint-sized visitors, with more than 25 residents attending to share games, stories, songs and a morning tea of fruit and home-baked biscuits.

“The residents are relaxed and happy to watch and play with the children, which prompts reminiscence about their own children and grandchildren,” Jeannie said.

Ultimately though, the joy that each visit brings is the best reward.

“(After each visit) I feel on top of the world,” Alex at Clifford House states. “Why wouldn’t I be? The kids are well mannered and their enthusiasm is amazing.”

It’s a joy that is set to continue with more intergenerational activities planned across all of Carinity’s aged care communities.

Carinity Education Southside students playing Scattegories with Carinity Wishart Gardens resident, Sue Folkman
Carinity Education Southside students playing Scattegories with Carinity Wishart Gardens resident, Sue Folkman.

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