Intergenerational Care: A true win-win

In today’s society, both young and old are increasingly cared for in isolated age groups. Children hardly mix with the elderly, especially those who are less able. Equally, many older people feel lonely and disconnected from society, especially in a retirement home environment.

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In today’s society, both young and old are increasingly cared for in isolated age groups. Children hardly mix with the elderly, especially those who are less able. Equally, many older people feel lonely and disconnected from society, especially in a retirement home environment.

Taking its cue from groundbreaking studies and experiences in Japan, Europe and the US, Little Star Playschool has opened an intergenerational playschool in partnership with the CPOA (Cape Provincial Organisation for the Aged).

Through this intergenerational contact model, children benefit from engaging with older adults who have a lifetime of skills and experience to share. Regular intergenerational interactions have shown to positively impact on children’s empathy, EQ, self-esteem and confidence – all critical development areas during early childhood development.

Equally important, these studies have shown improvements in the physical fitness and mental health of the elderly, and an increased sense of self-worth and purpose, including reduced feelings of isolation and depression.

Little Star Playschool in Rondebosch, Cape Town is located within the grounds of CPOA’s Avondrust Court Retirement Community. It has its own dedicated outdoor and indoor spaces and is separate from residents’ living areas.

It is the first playschool in South Africa to offer structured intergenerational activities, including weekly walk-throughs where the children meet and greet residents, storytime and gentle activities such as gardening.

Volunteer residents take part in fun joint activity sessions twice a week. All interactions are planned, structured and overseen. Avondrust residents can enjoy intergenerational activities tailored to their ability depending on if they are living independently, in frail care, or in the dementia unit.

Initial responses from children, parents, residents and staff of both the CPOA and Little Star have been overwhelmingly positive, with many ‘goosebump’ moments of utter joy for all involved. Both Little Star Playschool and CPOA are encouraged by the positive impact that these interactions have had on both the children and the elderly residents.

To follow this journey and inspiring story, please like Little Star Playschool on Facebook @littlestarplayschoolSA or visit www.cpoa.org.za.

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