A pilot study of an intergenerational program for people in residential aged care with cognitive impairment and children from a co-located early learning centre during COVID-19

Nathan M D'Cunha, Helen Holloway, Breanna Cave, Stephanie Mulhall, Annaliese Blair, Katrina Anderson, Daniela Castro De Jong, Susan Kurrle, Stephen Isbel

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Abstract

Intergenerational programs in residential aged care may improve well-being and combat loneliness and social isolation in older people with cognitive impairment. This pilot study investigated the effects of a semi-structured intergenerational group, including children from a co-located early learning centre and people living in residential aged care with cognitive impairment. This 9-week study used a mixed methods pre- and post-program design. Sessions were designed and delivered once per week by Occupational Therapists and took into account residents’ interests and children’s developmental needs and interests, identified in pre-program interviews. Nine older people with cognitive impairment and 13 children participated. The program was well attended despite disruptions and complications caused by COVID-19 and weather conditions. Older people valued the opportunity to engage with the children. Children were observed to gain confidence in communicating and forming friendships with older people with different levels of ability. There did not appear to be any change in loneliness or neuropsychiatric symptoms. The intergenerational program benefited participants and received strong support from family members and staff of the early learning centre and aged care home.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalDementia
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Feb 2024

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