Playgroups in Aged Care Facilities

Playgroups connect families with other families and their young children. When playgroups are at an aged care facility a third generation is brought into the equation: older adults. Older adults make up an increasing proportion of the population and live in residential aged care when their care needs prevent them from living in their own homes. Over the past decade the number of older adults in care has risen and for them, social exclusion - the experience of being cut off from participating in society - can be an issue. Playgroups in aged care facilities offer older adults in residential care a form of community engagement and at the same time help ease the ever present demand from families for playgroup venues.

Intergenerational playgroup pilot project In September 2009, a Victorian Government funded playgroup project was begun by Playgroup Victoria at Percy Baxter Lodges, a low care aged care facility in North Geelong. Two facilitators were engaged to support the playgroup: a lifestyle officer from Percy Baxter Lodges and a playgroup facilitator from the City of Greater Geelong. Twelve families and 15 residents were recruited. The National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) was engaged to evaluate the project. You can read more about this project here.

The value of playgroup in aged care facilities:

 Benefits to children  Benefits to parents  Benefits to residents 
  • Socialise with other children, other parents and older adults 
  • Learn to play cooperatively through music, group singing, free play and snack time
  • Develop communication skills through contact with other children and adults
  • Develop fine and gross motor skills
  • Develop and improve body control, hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness and balance when playing with balls, sand, blocks, puzzles, playdough, paint and paste 
  • Discover shape, size, texture, quantity and consistency when exploring sensory play with dough, clay, slime, water and sand 
  • Learn to recognise colours and express emotions by experimenting with paint, collage, chalk, crayons and stamps 
  • Extend their experience of literacy in a social environment 
  • Thrive in a nurturing environment with their parent close by 
  • Have people available who dote on their every move 
  • Find out about other people’s parenting experiences 
  • Find out about local health care services
  • Get some aged care myths dispelled
  • Consider activities that residents could participate in
  • Mix with older adults who genuinely care about and look forward to seeing their children
  • Feel valued as a parent 
  • Make new friends
  • Be in a relaxed environment

“Getting older seemed to me as getting disabled but it’s wrong. Even though many residents have walking frames or wheelchairs, these things aren’t so important. We learned to see the kindness and love of these elderly people. We don’t look anymore at what they cannot do. We look how warm and happy they are. We really gained a fantastic lesson changing our view towards older people and an aged care facility.” (Parent) Evaluation of an Intergenerational Playgroup in a Residential Aged Care Facility

  • Social inclusion 
  • Enjoyment from interacting with the children and parents 
  • Another reason to talk and laugh 
  • The chance to recall memories from their own parenting or childhood days and to understand parenting today 
  • A meaningful activity can occur no matter how active a role a resident takes on e.g. observing the children arrive or helping to set up the equipment 
  • Outings with parents and children to places in the community
  • Helps residents keep active 
“A well designed intergenerational playgroup would respect residents need for a sense of safety, security, order, dignity (including the absence of infantilising treatment), privacy and would acknowledge the individuality of residents.“ Evaluation of an Intergenerational Playgroup in a Residential Aged Care Facility

Read more about starting a playgroup in aged care facilities, here.

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