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Research project investigates generational shift in aged care

There’s a generational shift coming to aged care. Gradually the Silent Generation, characterised as conservative people with respect for authority, who lived through the Second World War and the Great Depression, will be replaced by the Baby Boomers; born between 1946 and 1964 as the first generation to be raised in front of a television, and who are seen as materialistic and ambitious.

(Source: Shutterstock)
(Source: Shutterstock)

The Silent Generation likes bingo, word games and knitting. The Baby Boomers are fans of technology and use social media to reconnect with old friends. They are unlikely to settle for bingo night.

Leisure & Lifestyle Consultant Jade Gilchrist, founder of Embracing Difference Consultancy in Queensland, believes there is a need for aged care providers to re-evaluate current leisure & lifestyle programs and to prepare for a transition phase as the two generations overlap.

To support her ‘Baby Boomer Research Project’ she’s looking for participants to gain more insight into the emerging needs of the next generation of care recipients.

It’s been 20 years since Ms Gilchrist followed her mother’s footsteps into aged care, studying Certificate 3 in Aged Care and completed her compulsory placement. “Way back in the good old days where things were not so good in nursing homes, I remember the stench of urine the moment I stepped into the facility. We all know how far we have come in Aged Care, but do we know how much further we have ahead of us?”

After completing her course she immediately enrolled to study Certificate 4 in Diversional Therapy. “My motivation was about spending quality time with residents and to have the opportunity to engage in meaningful activities. Assistant in nursing was too task focused for me and I found I had little time to really connect with my residents except during cares, so my new direction into Leisure & Lifestyle was born.”

Researcher and Leisure & Lifestyle Consultant Jade Gilchrist

Today Ms Gilchrist has 17 years experience in the Leisure & Lifestyle field under a number of different roles. Also a qualified Anthropologist, she has a unique view of the Leisure & Lifestyle industry.

“I use my knowledge of quantitative and qualitative research methods to assist me in my Lifestyle role but more importantly I’ve come to see each facility as its own culture. In my current role as a Leisure & Lifestyle Consultant, I advocate for better standards by education and create tools to assist with the day to day coordination of Lifestyle Departments. However, as a result of my anthropological education I also have become acutely aware of not pushing the one fits all approach.”

She has first hand experience with the conflict of age appropriate activities as Baby Boomers are entering Aged Care facilities and with a tech-savvy Baby Boomer mother she decided to research what that generation is expecting when it comes to aged care and how the transition into care can be made easier.

“ ’As long as my finger still works and I can use my iPad, I will be fine,’ said my mother over a recent conversation about Aged Care facilities.

“One thing that already seems obvious before I even start my research is the need for technology friendly facilities and tech ready Lifestyle staff. It will be Lifestyle staff that will be asked to help with Skype or misbehaving iPads and we might as well accept it and learn what we can about this technology.”

(Source: Shutterstock)

“So to predict the Impact of the Baby Boomer generation on Diversional Therapy practice I am conducting research and seeking participation from Lifestyle Officers, Lifestyle Coordinators and Diversional Therapists to gather data. A short email survey and brief telephone interviews will all be kept confidential. I am particularly interested in anyone who is trying to cater to both generations in the one facility and what challenges or successes you have experienced.”

Through her research Ms Gilchrist is hoping to identify current trends in practise, and promote forward thinking and planning by pushing for new standards in Lifestyle Departments across the Aged Care Sector, to ensure readiness for the emerging needs of next generation of care recipients.

“The findings of this paper will explore changes in the Aged Care service delivery. Clarify if placement in Aged Care facilities are becoming reserved for mainly dementia and high-care care recipients as this will also contribute to new Diversional Therapy practices in the future.”

Ms Gilchrist would also like to speak to people of the Baby Boomer generation to understand their expectations of Leisure & Lifestyle Departments in Aged Care facilities.

 “The significance of these findings will assist professionals in the Leisure & Lifestyle industry to review current practices. It will also give valuable insight into the expectations of future care recipients and their needs.”

Jade Gilchrist is hosting a free presentation on Thursday 19 April at the Clifton Jam Factory. Register online to attend. 

Follow the Baby Boomer Research Project on Facebook to participate in polls and group discussions or contact Jade by emailing or phone 0432 712 087 for more information or to take part in her research.


Parts of this article were published in Diversional Therapy Australia’s magazine ‘Connections’ – June 2016. Republished with permission of Jade Gilchrist. 


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