After years of anticipation and delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Macquarie Hills Community Preschool (MHCPS) pre-schoolers and HammondCare Cardiff residents have finally met. The meeting marks the beginning of an intergenerational program that had been planned for years, but was postponed due to health restrictions.
On March 30, a group of 12 children, along with educators and a parent helper, visited HammondCare Cardiff for a morning of singalongs, a handover of more paintings, and some morning tea. The children also showed their new older friends the MHCPS Acknowledgement of Awabakal Country.
HammondCare Cardiff is a purpose-built dementia village, the first of its kind in the Hunter region. The village is home to up to 99 residents living with dementia and is one of 17 specialised residential care homes operated by HammondCare in NSW, Victoria, and, later this year, South Australia.
During the visit, HammondCare Cardiff resident Roslyn Quinlan thanked the children on behalf of the residents for coming. “Thank you for reminding us of all our grandchildren. You have brought so much happiness to us all,” she said.
MHCPS Director Sue Collinson hopes that the intergenerational experience between the pre-schoolers and HammondCare Cardiff residents will provide opportunities to develop meaningful relationships for both. “It’s about the children developing an understanding of community. It’s a wonderful opportunity to venture out into our local area in a meaningful way,” Ms Collinson said.
HammondCare Cardiff residential manager Laiju Benny said the visit by the children will help lift the residents’ feeling of well-being and their overall quality of life. “The residents do enjoy having children around, and it lifts their feeling of happiness,” she said.
Despite health restrictions stopping visits in the past, there have been plenty of exchanges of artwork and gifts from both the children and the residents. Orchestrated messages of support and waving from the children and staff have been loud enough to hear at HammondCare Cardiff.
Professor Susan Kurrle, HammondCare Senior Principal Research Fellow, geriatrician, and expert advisor to the ABC documentary series Old People’s Home for 4-Year-Olds, said both the pre-schoolers and the Cardiff residents will experience benefit. “It’s just so wonderful to see intergenerational programs like this being put into practice. It’s exactly what we need to see more of,” Prof Kurrle said.
HammondCare’s ambition is to set the global standard of relationship-based care for people with complex needs and to increase care for those that others won’t or can’t.