What are the benefits of intergenerational connections?

Aged Care November 21, 2019

Recently airing on the ABC, Old People’s Home for Four Year Olds is a program that explores the importance of intergenerational connections for older Australians. It’s a concept that’s still gaining popularity in Australia, but it’s something that we see benefiting Mable clients every day.

The TV series, set in a retirement home in North Sydney, follows 11 residents who spend time playing with a group of preschoolers, to see if the contact has a positive impact on health and wellbeing. As described here in Talking Aged Care, the program is part-entertainment, part-study, as a team of experts monitor the impact of the intergenerational interaction in the home, which has a special pre-school built within it. 

It’s not the first time that aged care homes have encouraged interaction between the ages. Mirroring a model that has reported great success in The Netherlands, a nursing home in Sydney suburb of Bexley has created a program that provides free rent and meals for Sydney University Allied Health students in exchange for 30 hours of volunteered conversation and friendship each month. As reported by the ABC, the program is designed to be spontaneous, allowing the students flexibility when coming up with ideas for how they and the residents of the home will spend time together. Often, they will listen to music, go for a coffee or watch a movie together. Some residents have the students assist them with craft or their favourite hobby. The program was introduced as a way to tackle loneliness and incidents of depression amongst the residents – and it touches on a value that’s common for Mable clients – the importance of maintaining community connections as we age.

Finding community connection when isolation hits home

Even for older Australians who are able to remain living independently in their own homes, there is a risk of increased isolation as they age. Mable provides people who are ageing, as well as those with a disability, an online platform that connects them with independent support workers in their local area. Independent workers provide nursing and personal care services, but a huge cohort of support workers – many who are new to the industry – are finding clients seeking social support and companionship. Independent support workers don’t necessarily fit the traditional mould, with Mable’s community including students looking for flexible work to fit around their timetables, part-time parents and recent retirees. Clients can search for workers based on detailed personal profile and many are basing their choice not on traditional skills and experience, but on personality fit and interests. In this way, the platform is a truly social model, allowing clients to engage support from those they may choose to spend time with in everyday situations. 

Similarly, the support they’re seeking is not traditional, with many engaging workers to help them pursue a passion or new interest, or remain active and engaged in their local community. One of our recent requests of the week was a client looking for a support worker to accompany him to a dance class, while Mable client Doug engaged his independent support worker to help him work on a history project. For others, companionship can be as simple as someone to share a cuppa with.

Interested in finding out what kind of people are offering social support in your neighbourhood? Search the profiles of support workers today.