Aged care home, preschool center partner to foster relation between youngest and oldest

Aged care home, preschool center partner to foster relation between youngest and oldest

As soon as the first Goodwin House resident sets foot in the University Preschool and Childcare Centre, a plastic dinosaur is thrust into their hand, wrote.

"I think they remembered me," a delighted Lloyd Hone said.

"This is great for me. Children, you can't help but like them."

The Ainslie aged care facility and the Australian National University-based childcare center have partnered to foster relationships between Canberra's youngest and oldest.

Every four weeks, usually on a Tuesday, the elderly travel to the ANU to share pikelets, lamingtons and chocolate biscuits with the toddlers. They sing songs and read books.

The center's blue tongue lizard, Leo, is passed around. Raisin toast is buttered and shared.

Ainslie House activities coordinator Abbie Dawson said the monthly visits had quickly become popular among residents. Many put their name down for the excursion before it was officially announced.

An ANU childcare initiative — two and three-year-olds having morning tea with the elderly from Goodwin Village. Photo by Karleen Minney.

One resident, who has dementia, wasn't quite sure where he was headed when he hopped on the bus from Ainslie. He remembered as soon as they pulled up.

"A lot of them feel so much more lifted and lightened after this, especially with it being in the morning," Dawson said.

"Mornings can sometimes be a bit hard for these guys — they don't sleep well overnight, then breakfast happens and they usually go back to bed.

"Coming here that bit earlier with this group is something that allows them to make their day."

University Preschool and Childcare Centre director Lynley Rees said the children benefited too.

"It's good for them building their confidence... particularly in our case where a lot of the children are from overseas and they don't have grandparents living with them, it's really good for them to be able to experience being able to interact with older people," she said.

"There's a lot of research to support the benefits to both aged residents and children, having those intergenerational visits happening."

It's a noisy, happy cacophony. Dawson described the visit as a highlight for some residents, some of whom had few relatives in the ACT.

"The fact they get that one-on-one attention and that 45 minutes, an hour, however long we stay, it's really good to see them change their whole mood," she said.

"There is some that don't come out on bus trips at all for a few months, so the fact they've even got out of the building is a plus."