There was magical energy and pure joy in the air at the official opening of the Herd Intergenerational Learning Centre at Uniting AgeWell Andrew Kerr Care in Mornington last week.
The first centre of its kind in Australia built under the same roof as an aged care facility, The Herd ILC caters for 66 children aged from six weeks to four years old.
Uniting AgeWell CEO Andrew Kinnersly said it was a very proud and special moment that heralded a future of love and joy for the “grand friends” as the children fondly refer to the residents, and the little children alike. “I am confident this will be seen as an exemplar of how intergenerational centres can improve the quality of life for older and younger generations,” he said.
The founders and directors of The Herd, sisters Fiona and Anna Glumac, both outlined how the opening brought their five year dream to a reality and how proud they were to partner with Uniting AgeWell in this venture.
“When you have the privilege of observing these intergenerational connections, you truly feel what it is to be human. Intergenerational learning is humanity epitomised,” said Fiona. “It’s the heart connections. The shared joy that also comes with the deep awareness of each other’s vulnerabilities.”
The spirit of the centre was mirrored when residents Rose and Barry Smith and two very important little people - Isla Tierney and ShivOm Adhikari from The Herd – cut the ribbon.
And the magic continued with a wonderful afternoon tea complete with petting zoo where residents and children chatted and stroked rabbits and chicks and laughed at the antics of a few badly-behaved goats.
The centre has been open since early this year, and already there’s a different vibe in the air at the aged care facility, with residents thrilled to be able to spend time with the children.
You can see the joy and happiness on the residents' faces and the natural connection and interaction between the children and their grand-friends.
Research shows intergenerational care can improve the quality of life of aged care residents, reduce the risk of developing dementia and combat isolation and loneliness. Children can also benefit, developing higher levels of empathy and social acceptance.
But you don’t need textbook knowledge to see this in action at the centre.