Bethanie, Western Australia’s most recognised not-for-profit aged care and retirement living provider is tackling social isolation head on in an endeavour to ensure that as many of their customers as possible have a positive ageing experience – remaining active and connected to others.
For example, they have been running an intergenerational playgroup since February this year at the Bethanie Gwelup Aged Care Facility. Each fortnight, young babies and toddlers and their parents visit the ACF for a few hours at a time for the playgroup session. The group brings together young children, parents and the elderly for quality interaction through activities and playtime.
The visits take place from 9:30–11:30am on a Friday and together the young and old enjoy toys and puzzles, but most of all they enjoy the interaction with each other. Belinda Andrews started the playgroup after attending a similar activity where her Grandad was being cared for, and felt it made for a wonderful way to see him.
Bethanie Gwelup Occupational Therapist, Jess Cathcart said, “When Belinda asked if she could come in once a fortnight and facilitate children’s visits (with their parents) we welcomed the idea with open arms. What a great opportunity for young children to connect with the older generations and assist to reduce social isolation.”
“Providing the opportunity for the two vastly different age groups to come together brings a new energy, knowledge and enthusiasm to the lives of everyone involved. We believe that these close intergenerational connections greatly benefit both groups.”
Examples of activities that take place are finger painting, play doh, bubbles, jigsaw puzzles, balloons and stickers. Colouring in and throwing a ball have already proved popular, and morning tea and coffee are provided.
Bethanie CEO Chris How comments, “There is a real need for people to feel connected. Social isolation is a well-established risk factor and trigger for depression and anxiety, and where possible we want to avoid that, so this is a fine example of how we are trying to keep our clients young and interacting with all generations.”
Social connections are shown time and time again to prevent these risks and Bethanie says they have the tools, the staff and the access to help people to make a big difference.
“It is important that the community recognises that social isolation is not just about people living on their own; it can occur to people living at home, in villages and even in residential care. We have a level of responsibility to make this a priority as we don’t want anyone to feel alone. At Bethanie you’re among friends,” adds Chris.
It is free to attend the group and people can do so by contacting Belinda on 0421 319 499.
Find out more about Bethanie.