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Mudgeeraba: where farm meets aged care facility

Whoever said not to work with children and animals has obviously not seen the impact the combination can have on the lives of older Australians.

Gerard and Christine Polaschek at Cedarbrook (Source: Carinity)
Gerard and Christine Polaschek at Cedarbrook (Source: Carinity)

A new aged care home in Mudgeeraba, Queensland, has come up with a new initiative that includes an on-site farm which involves local school students, from The Southport School, caring for and maintaining the animals alongside elderly residents.

Carinity Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jon Campbell says the initiative is reflective of research that shows animals can reduce tension, fatigue and confusion while also boosting enthusiasm, interest, activity levels and socialisation among aged care residents.

“Our vision with Cedarbrook is to engage the local community and utilise our vacant land for creating social value and enterprise,” Mr Campbell says.

“Over time we see the farm evolving to engage residents in beekeeping and honey production and other activities such as an organic community garden.

“We believe the presence of horses and cattle, the farming greenery and interaction with students in residential aged care will protect against the decline of mental wellbeing.”

Mr Campbell says the the initiative also aims to create an intergenerational bridge bringing together students and elderly residents participating in joint curriculum and volunteering initiatives.

Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt, who officially opened the new facility, has praised the innovative approach.

“This is part of a welcome trend in Australia, where we increasingly see the activities of young Australians, from toddlers to teenagers, woven into aged care,” he says.

He adds that senior Australians, including those in aged care, are given the opportunity to take part in productive activities as much as possible, and says the farm at Cedarbrook sets ‘a fine example’.

“It can be hands-on, or providing ideas or just cheering others on, but senior Australians have a contribution to make to our communities and our local economies,” Minister Wyatt explains.

“I understand that Carinity plans to start producing honey and that residents may take part in this, and even get their names on the honey jars… what a great way to keep people connected, active and involved, and to encourage connections between generations.”

70-year-old Cedarbrook resident Gerard Polaschek’s wife Catherine has praised the farm initiative noting the calming nature of the animals on site.

“It’s just wonderful to be able to see the horses as they really are and just looking at them,” she says.

“I think animals are very calming… even if you can’t touch them, just seeing them is calming.

“We often come down and see the horses and just touch them if we can.”

The Minister has also welcomed the facilities further development which will see a retirement village and supported accommodation which he says is a ‘great concept’ which allows people to remain in the same locality and the same community of care as they become older and their needs, or their partners’ needs change.

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