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Scalabrini Austral and Annabelle Child Care Centre:
Building Intergenerational Community Relationships

It really is beautiful to see intergenerational relationships blossom between the old and the young.

Our Scalabrini Austral village has a special relationship with the local pre-school, Annabelle Child Care Centre. The preschool has been visiting our village for the past few years to build relationships between the children and our elderly residents.

It always puts a big smile on everyones faces to see the happiness that the preschoolers bring to our village and each elderly person they interact with. This partnership between Scalabrini Austral and Annabelle Child Care Centre survived the COVID-19 pandemic where we were able to use technology to keep meeting together. Therefore, its been a joy for both the children and the residents to be able to come together in person again.

The children come visit residents every week and rotate between the different village casas to make sure they can say hi and spend time with everyone equally. They spend a good part of the day at our village and interact with residents through a variety of activities ranging from arts and crafts to physical play activities to morning tea. Our residents love chatting to the children and teaching them new things.

We were even able to celebrate Grandparents Day together, where each resident had an adopted grandchild from the preschool who brought them beautiful greeting cards that they made themselves.

We are loving having the children and staff from Annabelle Child Care Centre visit our residents as part of their schedule. We are looking forward to continuously partnering with them in building deeper community and intergenerational relationships between the young and old.

 

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Scalabrini’s Gold Soul Companionship Program

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/

Intergenerational Relationships

 

Intergenerational relationships are defined as two people who have a bond with each other and a 15+ years of age difference. Intergenerational relationships are beneficial for both the younger and older person and at Scalabrini, we try to ensure our residents are able to build and foster such bonds.

 

For the older individual, intergenerational relationships have two main benefits:

  1. Intergenerational relationships shape their approach around everyday ageing
  2. Intergenerational relationships influence how they feel about societal ageism

 

Shaping Everyday Ageing

Intergenerational relationships have a significant positive impact on shaping everyday ageing of the older individual due to:

  • Younger people are typically being more optimistic
  • Younger people are typically future focused
  • Younger people help increase both physical and social activities which improves wellbeing

 

Influencing Societal Ageism

Intergenerational relationships have a significant positive impact on influencing societal ageism felt and experienced by the older individual due to:

  • Younger people encouraging ‘active ageing’ where a full and present life is still maintained
  • Younger people help expand the world of older people by teaching them new things (eg. Technology)
  • Younger people help to keep older people mentally sharp

 

The younger person in the relationship helps to combat negative feelings or fears around getting traditionally older. This helps the older person break certain stereotypes on what being older looks like as more than just a physical number of age.

 

The younger person in the relationship helps to combat negative feelings or fears around getting traditionally older. This helps the older person break certain stereotypes on what being older looks like as more than just a physical number of age and fulfil a desire to create a legacy and impact with stories and lessons of their past. In an aged care setting, these benefits are important to improve and maintain a high quality of life and positive outlook for the elderly within themselves and for their future.

At Scalabrini, we understand the significant positive impacts of intergenerational relationships. Our goal is to help residents age successfully, meaning with dignity, control and respect. Scalabrini residents gain the benefits of intergenerational relationships from not just loved ones, but also from their bonds with staff and volunteers as they spend time together partaking in wellbeing activities.

You can read more about our Gold Soul program here: https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/at-23-katie-finds-life-in-a-nursing-home-is-full-of-joy/