Our Gold Soul Companionship Program at Scalabrini is the first of its kind in Australia and is an intergenerational student volunteer program that we’ve been running since 2018 at our aged care village in Bexley.
The Gold Soul Companionship program represents:
• Gold: generosity, wisdom, knowledge → value
• Soul: thoughts, feelings and actions → spirit
• Companionship: enjoying each others company → outcome
Through the program, a small group of Allied Health students from The University of Sydney are offered free accommodation on-site at Scalabrini Bexley in exchange for 30 hours of volunteer work per month with our residents.
The goal of these volunteer hours is to create opportunities for intergenerational bonding and friendship. This means that while students are able to spend time with residents and enrich their lives socially, students also gain further insights into residential aged care within the context of their university studies. A focus on relationship based care improves the quality of life for the residents as well as adding value to students by reducing any negative preconceptions around the elderly and aged care.
Some of the Gold Soul Companionship program volunteering activities look like:
• Sharing meals with residents
• Playing cards and board games
• Attending Mass with residents
• Making customised music playlists
• Putting on events eg. high teas
• Spending quality time with our residents
• Organising and facilitating group activities
• Participating in light exercise
Due to its unstructured nature and the friendships formed, students often spend more than the required 30 hours a month of volunteer time. Students find hidden joy and gain as much from the residents as they give towards them.
A perfect example of this is Katie’s story. Katie is a 23 year old international student who was recently interviewed about her meaningful experiences while living at Bexley. You can read more about her participation in the Gold Soul program here: https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/at-23-katie-finds-life-in-a-nursing-home-is-full-of-joy/