While our oldest and youngest generations may seem worlds apart, a new ageing well initiative will bring them together in an innovative intergenerational education and development program that will connect children with older people in a structured way.
Supported by Office for Ageing Well, SA Health, led by aged care provider ACH Group and co-designed with the University of South Australia and the City West Child Care Centre, the Child Care in Aged Care project is an intergenerational program that aims to deliver significant health and wellbeing benefits for older people and preschool children alike.
Announced as part of the state government's five-year plan to support all South Australians to age well, the Child Care in Aged Care project will promote meaningful community connections and challenge ageism by linking generations and challenging stereotypes.
UniSA partner and occupational therapist, Dr Carolyn Murray, says the social opportunities afforded by the program will be unique to South Australia.
Intergenerational activities have so many benefits for all participants, but they're particularly good for creating genuine opportunities that encourage social connectedness.
When we bring together older people and preschool-aged children, we find that there is a real sense of joy. Everyone is focussed, everyone is in the moment, and as a result, everyone benefits."
Dr Carolyn Murray, UniSA Partner and OccupationalTherapist
Current statistics show that South Australia has the highest proportion of older people on mainland Australia with more than 37 per cent of South Australians aged over 50 years.
The Child Care in Aged Care project is still in the development phase, but it hopes to enhance connections between different sectors (community, government, aged care, child care and university) to tackle ageism and grow diversity.
UniSA's occupational therapy students will also be involved in the implementation of the program, further extending its reach and impact while also providing valuable hands-on experience for students.
ACH Group's General Manager Service Design, Ms Ivy Diegmann says the program will focus on promoting valued roles of older people.
"Older South Australians are diverse, with different ideas, aspirations and lived experiences, which - when shared - can enrich the lives of younger generations," Ms Diegmann says.
"Creating and maintaining social connections are key to ageing well, but far too often, they fall by the wayside.
"Through the Child Care in Aged Care project, we're creating opportunities to connect and create meaningful engagement across generations and community, to ensure a sense of vitality, inclusivity and self-worth for everyone involved."
The pilot is expected to commence in 2021.