Laughter and the pitter-patter of tiny feet can often be heard at Tasmanian community based, not-for-profit aged care provider OneCare’s Bishop Davies Court facility.
Mixing the ‘old’ with the ‘young’, OneCare and St Michael’s Collegiate Early Learning Centre have developed an innovative intergenerational project, titled Kids Interacting with The Elderly (KITE), at its co-located site.
KITE engages children – aged three months to five years old – in a variety of play based activities with the elderly residents. The success of the project was shared at Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) national conference on the Gold Coast yesterday.
KITE program manager, Helen Creese, says inviting children into the aged care facility – following relevant police checks on all participating residents – brings “a lot of fun, laughter, life and enjoyment” into the lives of elderly residents.
“It makes [residents] happy – particularly in a high care setting where they have been described by staff as being settled and happy days after the visits,” Ms Creese says.
Whether the children sit on the floor playing with toys or nestle in the laps of residents as they have a cuddle, KITE also gives children the opportunity to interact with elderly people. But Ms Creese adds for an intergenerational program such as this to be successful there must be “trust” and “time”.
“It takes a long time to develop trust in children and the elderly in order to feel comfortable. It also takes time for two large agencies, such as OneCare and St Michael’s Collegiate School, to mesh and work together on one project,” she says.
But for a project like KITE to be effective, there must also be one important factor – fun!
“You just have to have fun. I really enjoy KITE and seeing children and residents develop relationships,” she says.
For more information on KITE, or to implement a similar intergenerational project at your facility, visit www.kite.org.au or email firstname.lastname@example.org