YOU might have seen those feel-good videos on social media in which entourages from preschools visit their local nursing homes and the two generations spend time bonding.
It’s now happening right here in the Hawkesbury, with three-to-five-year-olds from Hawkesbury Community Outreach Services (HCOS) Mobile Preschool making monthly visits to the residents at Kurrajong & District Community Nursing Home.
The visits have been going for around three months, and HCOS Mobile Preschool director, Melinda Davis, actually came up with the idea after seeing others doing it online.
“We decided to look into it ourselves, did some googling at home and saw the research. A centre in Victoria was actually making the news by doing it while we were setting it all up. It seems to be growing in Australia,” said Ms Davis.
Setting it up was not a huge task, especially as all those involved - the parents, kids and nursing home staff - thought it was a fantastic idea.
“I took it to my committee first and they were keen to jump on board. Next I spoke to the parents and they thought it was a great idea. I approached the local nursing home and they thought it was a great idea as well, so we nutted out days and times,” said Ms Davis.
HCOS Mobile Preschool’s offices are in Kurrajong, and the service runs two preschools - one in Bilpin and one in Blaxlands Ridge. The nursing home visits occur once a month on a rotating basis, with around nine kids from Bilpin visiting one month, and around 12 Blaxlands Ridge preschool kids visiting the following month.
“We take the activities with us, and they’re all preschool-based. It can be as simple as taking some playdough, threading, puzzles, painting, they do singing and have story time,” said Ms Davis.
“The residents’ faces light up when we walk in with the kids. They talk to the kids, the kids are starting to get to know them. Some kids have been to multiple visits now, they go over and talk to them and make them a painting.”
Sandy Barratt, lifestyle coordinator at Kurrajong Nursing Home, said the visits are “most definitely” a positive thing for the residents, and they’ve been “interacting really well” with the kids.
“I had been reading a few articles about what people had been doing overseas and when [HCOS] approached me I thought ‘oh wow’, it was a really, really good thing,” she told the Gazette.
“I think it’s good for the younger ones to interact with the older ones, and vice versa, to interact with a different generation.
“Things change from month to month: one month we might have a few residents that are alert and the next time they might not be so involved. But those that don’t participate still watch.”
Last month (June), Hawkesbury’s Puddles the dragon attended the visit. She is the mascot for Paint Hawkesbury REaD, a children’s early literacy program which encourages everyone to read stories to children, right from birth.