Ozcare’s Burleigh Heads aged care facility (Ozanam Villa) was awarded top honours in Catholic Health Australia’s National Awards 2018 for Leadership in Positive Ageing.
The Award, presented at National Catholic Health Australia Conference gala dinner held in Melbourne last week, pays tribute to exemplary innovation, excellence and contribution to health and aged care.
Our staff, volunteers and residents at Ozcare Ozanam Villa Burleigh Heads believe you are never too old to learn or make new friends and they are proving this with their innovative new programs to bring cultures and generations together.
Led by Diversional Therapist Michele Roche, residents at Ozanam Villa Aged Care Facility are Skyping their counterparts in Japan as part of a ground-breaking new program to bring two cultures closer together.
The program commenced late 2017, and each month, more and more residents at Ozanam Villa are joining in on the program to not only learn more about the Japanese culture but to also share Australian songs, poetry and traditions. Residents even made handmade cards for all 77 of their Japanese counterparts which they sent over with macadamia biscuits to their new friends. The program started when Michele came up with the idea after looking for ways to tie in seniors’ interest in new technology with new activities.
Michele, on behalf of Ozanam Villa, contacted Alice House Aged Care Residence in Nagoya to see if they were interested in monthly Skype sessions. Within a few days they had arranged their first meet-up. The monthly one-hour sessions include a welcome from each side, a song of the month, general conversation and a display topic of interest chosen for a discussion.
Both groups eagerly share artworks they create over countless hours, and we are finding the program is giving extra motivation to art and music sessions. It has also sparked a number of new activities that a lot of residents are getting involved in including a culture club so residents can learn basic Japanese phrases to impress their new friends with.
The program is going a long way to promoting friendship via technology and developing a better understanding between two cultures, while creating a lot of enjoyment for our residents by bringing meaning and purpose to their lives.
Watch our latest video on the program
Not only are Ozanam Villa learning about another culture from the comfort of their armchairs they are also uniting with younger generations. They have intergenerational initiatives in place with Gumleaf Gully childcare, Aussie Kids Kindergarten, Marymount Catholic Primary School and Somerset College.
On a monthly basis, our residents go on outings to these local educational facilities or children and students come to our facility to meet up and share learnings. With Gumleaf Gully childcare, the most recent visits included kindergarten children performing dance routines, reading stories and decorating cupcakes with our residents, who they treat like their adopted grandparents. Even our residents who are vision impaired get to take part. They enjoy hearing the songs, and those who find hearing difficult take pleasure in watching the dancing.
We are also able to encourage our residents who are more socially isolated to get involved in the excursions and for those who have much higher needs and are unable to travel, they get to join in when the children come to visit. Similarly, students from Marymount Catholic Primary School enjoy visiting our facility regularly to perform for our residents and delight them with their reading.
Recently during a Grade 1 visit, one of our residents, Irene, took the time to write a poem for the students and read it aloud to them, “Good morning boys and girls, you have really made our day. All the things you do, drive our cares away. Can we say to all of you, will you please come back again?” These beautiful words from Irene show just how much these intergenerational visits mean to our residents.
Interaction with younger generations isn’t limited to younger students and children. Our residents are invited to join in on regular intergenerational luncheons with Somerset College Year 12 students. One of our residents, Jill, is a fortnightly visitor to the Somerset College Year 12 luncheon club. Somerset is an Ivy League school, and Jill an avid reader and seeker of knowledge now has a “Jill’s Word Wall” in their luncheon room. Each fortnight Jill researches two words to bring and read to the students to help develop their vocabulary. Recently the Deputy Principal was so impressed with the collaboration he came to visit and read Jill’s words out to residents and the student cohort.
This work is bringing invaluable meaning and purpose to the lives of our residents, leaving them happy, fulfilled and motivated to contribute to activities. At the same time, we are teaching younger generations respect for the elderly and imparting an appreciation for the wisdom and knowledge of our older generation. We are seeing new friendships form between two quite different cultures and a shared respect for each other’s traditions and values. Ultimately, we are proving that you are never too old to set another goal or dream another dream.