young and old hands

Young and old mix in new aged care project

Published: 12 July 2022
  • national
  • 12 July 2022
  • Australian Ageing Agenda

Construction has begun on a shared-roof intergenerational care site that will house a children’s learning centre under the same roof as a residential aged care home.

The Herd Intergenerational Learning Centre is being built alongside the Uniting AgeWell Andrew Kerr Care facility at Mornington in Victoria to offer daily interactions between children and seniors.

Founded by sisters and early childhood teachers Anna and Fiona Glumac, The Herd was inspired by their late grandmother who spent the last year of her life in residential aged care. 

“When our beautiful grandma made the transition to residential aged care it was heartbreaking to see some of her spark fade. She lit up around young children, so a program like this would have been life giving,” The Herd co-founder Anna Glumac said. “Our project is for her.”

The centre – set to open its doors early next year – will offer learning  for 66 children aged from six weeks to four years.

Aged care residents will be able to visit a lounge space and watch the children play. Young and old will also share scheduled activities, including art, music and storytelling.

The benefits of intergenerational care

Research shows intergenerational care can reduce the risk of developing dementia and combat isolation and loneliness in the elderly. Children can also benefit, developing higher levels of empathy and social acceptance.

“It has resulted in improved attitudes towards ageing and children’s perceptions about older people,” said Dr Anneke Fitgerald, professor of health management at Griffith University.  “It has also improved pro-social behaviour of sharing, helping and cooperation between generations by increasing social engagement, confidence and resilience in older people.”

Fiona Glumac said she hoped the centre would inspire similar projects, so the model of care became “more of the norm in Australia.”

“Our project is unique because residents will have the opportunity to come to the childcare centre and experience the joy of seeing and hearing the children in play whenever they are feeling lonely,” said Ms Glumac.

Uniting AgeWell chief executive officer Andrew Kinnersly said the centre – funded by Uniting AgeWell, along with the Victorian Government – would bring great benefits to young and old alike.

“Enabling older people living in residential care to continue to contribute and to engage with their community is extremely important. It’s why we are excited by the opportunities this innovative, shared-roof intergenerational learning centre presents to both young and old.”

Andrew Knight’s son, two-year-old Walter, is enrolled at The Herd. Mr Knight said the centre will provide Walter with a new childcare experience. “In addition to the expected early childhood learnings, we hope it will help Walter become a more empathetic and compassionate little person and create core memories that will give him a lifetime of appreciation and respect for our older generation.”

Mr Knight hopes the centre will “improve the quality of life of the aged care residents by giving them purpose and improving their mood. Kids’ energy is infectious; they give joy, create laughter and motivate us to engage,” he said.

Andrew Kerr residents Rose and Barry Smith are both looking forward to the learning centre’s opening. “It will bring a sense of community into our home, a great enjoyment that will not only enrich our lives in residential care but also the children’s.”