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Residents head back to school

Residents at Kalyra Woodcroft communities in Morphett Vale, Adelaide, have the opportunity to attend school again after Southern Montessori Middle School opened up their doors to students on their new campus.

One of the new Southern Montessori Middle School classrooms, co-located on the grounds of Kalyra Woodcroft in Adelaide. [Source: Kalyra Communities Woodcroft]

The middle school project with Kalyra has resulted in a 60 student capacity school built on the Woodcroft grounds, making it one of the first integrated educational and aged care facilities in Adelaide.

Kalyra residents will be able to engage in school classes with students, like music or art, at the school, and students will take time during the week to visit residents at the nursing home.

Alongside the partnership between the school and aged care facility, Flinders University, Adelaide, will be studying the impact of intergenerational connection for the residents and their psychosocial and cultural outcomes of the co-location near students.

Terry Wilby, Kalyra Woodcroft Director of Care, says the project has been a huge undertaking but believes the benefits of co-location with students will have huge benefits for the residents.

“Intergenerational programs help to dispel age-related myths and stereotypes. They have been shown to improve older adults health outcomes due to providing them with a greater sense of purpose, exposure to new learnings and increased physical activity. They also benefit from expanded social networks,” says Mr Wilby.

Southern Montessori Middle School Principal, Noel Browne, says the possibilities are endless when it comes to what interaction the nursing home and the school will have.

There is no set model for how the engagement between residents and students will work, however, Mr Browne believes certain classes at the school would be a fantastic opportunity for residents to come over and join in the activities.

Students will head over once a week to visit residents and engage in different activities with them, including baking scones with a resident or performing background music at the nursing home.

Mr Browne says this initiative will give students a greater appreciation of the cycle of life, as well as all the wisdom that can be passed down from their elders.

“I can see the whole idea of citizenship and them understanding different aspects of being a citizen within our society, the opportunities that present. The other word, community, just a deeper understanding of what it means to connect with others in a real community. Not a lip service, but caring because they matter to you,” says Mr Browne.

“We really are creatively exploring opportunities to connect. Sometimes we hear about the benefits of adolescent people in hearing the wisdom of older people.

“I really do think as our children get to forge really deep relationships with some of the older people, in their 30s or 40s they will have little memories of a person that talked to them about something they value.”

For the last 10 years, the middle school has been providing education to students in Council approved facilities temporarily, while they searched for a permanent and more suitable home.

The partnership between Kalyra Communities and Southern Montessori resulted in a co-habitation project, costing $1,250,000 for three classrooms.

Kalyra Communities Chief Executive Officer, Sara Blunt says, “Kalyra Communities mission is to service people in need, which we’ve been committed to for 127 years. This project is a wonderful expression of our mission in action within a community in which we operate.

“The students need more space to learn, our residents saw this opportunity could add vibrancy to their homes, and the Onkaparinga Council worked with us to make it happen. It is a wonderful example of a community working together to make a positive difference.”

Chair of Kalyra Communities, Sonia Bolzon, says, “This project is a wonderful expression of our mission in action within this community. 

“There is strong evidence that intergenerational programs enhance socialisation for older people. Learning is stimulated as older adults learn new innovations and technologies from younger people. Older people report increased emotional support which benefits health and functional outcomes.

“Our residents and our community have been extremely supportive of the idea. They believe that older people will benefit from the life, interest, energy and enthusiasm brought by these wonderful young people and the opportunity to join music lessons, art classes, garden projects or simply the company of younger people.”


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