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November 27, 2023

Positive impact of Intergenerational Relationships

The power of intergenerational relationships has been demonstrated on ABC’s Old People’s Home for Teenagers, featuring residents from RSL LifeCare’s Le Hamel Retirement Village and students from Heritage Christian School in Port Macquarie.  For 6 weeks, the groups met and worked on completing tasks, learning new skills, and importantly creating bonds as they learnt about one another.

Resident and school student chatting happily
Resident and school student chatting happily during filming of ABC’s Old People’s Home for Teenagers

On Monday 20 November 2023, the group met for the last time, and celebrated with a Christmas party.

Heritage Christian School teacher, Casey Baldwin, hailed the out-of-the-box idea as a great success and said everyone has bought in.

“I remember one of the students saying to me ‘Miss, I don’t know how to start conversations’ and I said ‘it will come’ and you watch her now and she’s great.”

After gaining inspiration from the first series of Old People’s Home for Teenagers, Ms Baldwin first approached the school’s principal and then reached out to Port Macquarie-Hastings Council.

“Sam Johnson from council suggested I go to Le Hamel Village and I spoke with Tulli and she has been phenomenal,” Ms Baldwin said. “She has taken this and run with it and she has supported me the whole way. She’s so excited, gets tears in her eyes because she’s so excited to see how well her seniors are going.”

Port Macquarie’s Le Hamel Village manager Tulli-Rae Fowler said more than anything, the program has been insightful.

“The impact it has across both seniors and students together and how much more alike they are in the problems and issues that some people experience,” Ms Fowler said.

“Age doesn’t really effect that they still go through those same struggles regardless, and it’s been beautiful to watch and witness them all grow together and create this bond.”

Student and resident doing craft
Student and resident doing craft during ABC’s Old People’s Home for Teenagers

Ms Fowler said it was a long process building interest in her residents who were often apprehensive about being placed out of their comfort zone.

“There was a lot of interest but there was equally a lot of hesitation,” she said. “It is something new, unnerving and it’s very vulnerable and for some of these residents putting yourself in a vulnerable situation does concern people.”

For their first meeting, the students and seniors gathered for their first activity, a ‘speed-meeting’ exercise at Roto House.

The second meeting was a treasure hunt on the school grounds where seniors and students worked together to decipher clues. The seniors then hosted the students for a games day at their Retirement Village.

Students and residents playing a game
Students and residents playing a game during ABC’s Old People’s Home for Teenagers

Both groups exchanged knowledge, with the seniors teaching baking skills and imparting words of wisdom while the students were able to share their technical know-how, demonstrating how to borrow an eBook and slow down a YouTube clip.

Residents and students chatting
Residents and students chatting during ABC’s Old People’s Home for Teenagers

“The guys that did this program at the pilot are the trailblazers,” Ms Fowler said. “There were a lot of people really interested but were just too hesitant because it was out of their comfort zone but now the feedback and just hearing the residents come back and say how impactful it’s been, for them it has really triggered that (interest).”

Plans are in place to expand the program in the near future, including incorporating RSL LifeCare’s Pozieres Retirement Village in Port Macquarie.

ABC’s Old People’s Home for Teenagers is streaming on ABC iview.

 

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