Sydney-based providers and other organisations interested in finding out more about intergenerational playgroups are invited to attend an open day at UnitingCare Ageing’s Woodfield facility, Haberfield, this Thursday 24 June, 9.30-11.30am.
The open day will mark the start of Woodfield’s new intergenerational program, which will unite its low-care residents with children aged 18 months to four years old, for at least an hour and a half once a week.
This new program will form part of a University of Western Sydney research project on intergenerational playgroups, and will also be associated with Playgroup NSW.
Leisure and lifestyle manager, Renee Smith, said that the new program will increase the interaction between the two generations, while attempting to break down the social stigma surrounding the older population.
“Children don’t have inhibitions so they are happy to just interact,” said Ms Smith.
“For a lot of residents, they don’t have family close by so this is just another connection to the younger generation.
“We have a job to do to provide optimum care but we need to provide [residents] with the opportunity to integrate into the community.
“[Intergenerational playgroups] will also stamp out the stigma, which suggests that older people just sit in a home and don’t do anything. They do live, have a wealth of knowledge and have plenty of information to share. They contribute a lot to the community and are often forgotten about.”
The inner west program follows on from the organsiation’s Leichardt-based group, which has been running for more than a year now. UnitingCare Ageing’s Sydney region aims to also set up another intergenerational program at its day care facility in Botany later this year.
Ms Smith said that so far, the experience has been “amazing”.
“You have an older person that doesn’t usually integrate or who is really independent. But they’ll see the kids running around and their face will light up or they’ll start engaging in conversation.”
“What we’ve found with the parents, who are mostly expats, is that they don’t have older people for children to share. So for both parties, it is an opportunity to meet new people and to share a bonding experience.”
Ms Smith said that past programs have also shown that intergenerational activity provokes memories in those residents experiencing the early onset of dementia.
“They’ll remember the good times and have that unique experience over and over again. It may only be for five minutes but we are improving their quality of life.”
The upcoming open day will be held at the UnitingCare Ageing’s facility at Woodfield Chapel, 51-61 Parramatta Road, Haberfield, New South Wales.
No bookings are required to attend. For more information call (02) 9568 8000.