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New handbook for intergenerational program in aged care

Carrington resident Phil Scarlett with students Julia and Stephanie

A guide explaining how to run a successful reminiscence program in aged care with the support of high school students has been launched in Sydney today.

Intergenerational Reminiscence – A leader’s guide for aged care organisations and secondary schools has been developed by Meaningful Ageing Australia and NSW aged care organisation Carrington.

The handbook explains how to support students to spend time with an older person who has the opportunity to tell the stories that matter to them.

Students then produce a memento for the older person to keep, which can be presented at an event to celebrate the person’s life with them and their family.

The guide is based on the Through our Eyes program, which has been refined over the past seven years by Carrington with Magdalene Catholic High School in Camden, NSW.

Meaningful Ageing CEO Ilsa Hampton said the guide helped those who would like to start or improve a program on how to go about it.

“This program is particularly important in giving the older person a reason to tell their story; and to be celebrated by those around them,” Ms Hampton said.

The guide (right) provides details on how to:

  • establish partnerships with local schools;
  • select and brief student participants and older people, monitoring the partnerships;
  • recognise and celebrate the final product with all participants including families; and
  • handle specific issues and challenges such as the death of an older person during the project.

“It also provides useful resources for project participation, selections, interviews, and reviewing the program from the point of view of the older person, family and the student,” said Ms Hampton.

Raad Richards

Carrington’s Through our Eyes program won Meaningful Ageing’s 2016 award for national aged care quality pastoral and spiritual care practice.

Carrington chief executive Raad Richards told AAA the resource would serve both the aged care industry and schools well.

The program emphasised two-way communication of knowledge and life experiences and helped break down the barriers between generations, he said.

In their words

Carrington resident Maureen Green and her daughter Sandra with students Bethany and Maddison

Residents, family members and staff from Carrington along with Year 11 students and their teachers from Magdalene High School gathered last week for a presentation of the work created recently as part of their collaboration.

Carrington resident Phil Scarlett said: “I thought my life was just normal, but I enjoyed that someone thought it was interesting enough to sit and listen to my story.”

Mr Scarlett’s daughter, Julie Vanderburg, said the experience has provided her father with a rewarding link with the younger generation and “affirmed for us and for my dad that his life story and experience is valued by someone outside the immediate family.”

Carrington resident Maureen Green told her story to Magdalene Catholic High School students including Maddison Saysonavongpheth.

“I really appreciate the friendship that I now have with the girls from Magdalene,” Ms Green said.

Ms Saysonavongpheth said: “I just feel blessed that I was able to experience little bits of life, which hopefully I’ll never have to experience myself, but Maureen’s been strong enough to live through.”


See Meaningful Ageing Australia’s website for more information.

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