A play-based initiative between some of Queensland’s oldest and youngest residents has become a major catalyst for transforming the lives of people living with dementia in a Brisbane aged care facility.
The playgroup, held in the vibrant inner city suburb of New Farm, is part of a program of intergenerational activities run by Ozcare at aged care facilities across the state, breaking down age barriers through childhood play.
Through weekly visits by children from Playgroup Queensland, residents at Ozcare’s Palm Lodge Aged Care Facility are finding new ways to cope with illnesses through their interactions with the youngest members of their community.
“There is a lot of laughter at the playgroups because these children are so curious and it can be motivational and uplifting for residents who feel the loneliness and isolation that can be part of ageing,” Ozcare’s Clinical Care Services Manager Carole Rowden said.
Brisbane mum Hermione Sutton said tomorrow’s playgroup would be a significant event for her family as it was the first time her 10-month old son Charlie would walk into the playgroup has he had taken his first steps since last week’s gathering.
“We call it Big People’s playgroup and it has just grown in popularity since I have been coming over the past 18 months,” Ms Sutton said.
“The children are learning so much about communication and it has helped my daughter Imogen, who is two, with her language development as she has to find ways to engage the residents who sitting down or in wheelchairs.”
Ms Rowden said the sessions were helping those with depression cope better and inspired poetry in some cases about how much the sessions mean each week.
“Each week, one of our residents sings a good bye song to the kids and it is the highlight of their week when these little ones burst through the door,” Ms Rowden said.
Playgroup Queensland’s Community Programs Manager Penny Allen said the Ageless Play program was helping build community capacity by nurturing relationships and providing safe, welcoming environments to play, learn and grow.
Playgroup Queensland piloted an intergenerational playgroup program in Brisbane’s inner city two years ago, with the success leading to other residential aged care and retirement living services establishing the Ageless Play initiative.
“The children feel special because they receive undivided attention from the older generation,” Ms Allen said.
“The older generation feels that they are giving back, and making a contribution to their community.
“And the parents and carers feel that as a result of attending the playgroup, they suddenly find they have a group of people who love their little one just as much as they do.
“Parents also value the advice given to them from a generation who have raised their own families.”
Ms Allen said Playgroup Queensland’s Ageless Play intergenerational program was built around a set of partnerships between residents, parents/carers, children and organisations such as Ozcare, which enabled sustainable communities to grow and flourish.