At first glance, aged care and early learning seem to have little in common. They touch the polar phases of life.
But dive a little deeper, and our experience shows something very different.
In its unique position in Western Australia as a provider of both aged care and early learning services, MercyCare for the past five years has been bringing residents from our Residential Aged Care centres with children attending our Early Learning centres.
As an early adopter, MercyCare is now a leader of intergenerational care in Western Australia.
The popularity and interest in this model skyrocketed since ABC aired its series “Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds” this year.
Public interest and support of the intergenerational approach has meant MercyCare can build further on its work and understanding in the area.
MercyCare is now partnering with leading intergenerational care researchers at Griffith University to develop and embed this approach so it is best practice, properly integrated and sustainable.
An evidence-based approach to reconnecting the generations is important, and one that once established can be applied across the wider Western Australian community for the benefit of our oldest and youngest members.
From a community and societal point of view, intergenerational care has huge benefits. From a business point of view, its about breaking down silos in our business and seeing how we can marry elements of our separate services together for the greater good of the business and our service users.
MercyCare is committed to creating an environment where seniors can thrive. Intergenerational Care is critical to this.
The program highlights the importance for people to stay socially connected, no matter what age they are. The experience allows people, young and old, to bring energy, a sense of fun and shared stories to each other’s lives.
For the older generation it reinforces the important role they continue to play in society. It is just one avenue MercyCare employs to allow its residents to stay connected to the community to avoid social isolation and loneliness.
When the residents and children come together the generation gap evaporates, the mood in the room lifts as special bonds are created, residents relearn things they already knew but had forgotten and it allows them to connect with their own past and the many things they have achieved in their own life.
The visits have the potential to fill social gaps for both age groups. Residents may not have children in their own lives. Equally some of the children don’t have grandparents that can visit regularly. Both young and old benefit from the interaction.
Based on the lessons learnt from its intergenerational care program, MercyCare has plans to build Western Australia’s first intergenerational care campus in Cannington, with a vision of integrating aged care into the local community.
After seeing the positive impacts of bringing people together from all generations, it makes sense to ensure that the aged care of the future sits squarely within the community.