Kids’ visits light a spark at rest home
Preschoolers from a Rotorua centre are lighting up the lives of residents from a local rest home and in turn are learning about empathy, ageing and conditions such as dementia.
The idea was initiated by Bupa New Zealand, The Gardens Rest Home and Hospital, which approached the ABC Rotorua Sunset Centre.
Bupa is a member of the Dementia-Friendly Rotorua Steering Group which was set up last year to help raise awareness about the diseases; through activi- ties including sharing information with networks and surveying people living with dementia to identify community action priorities.
Sacha Mountfort, Care Home manager of Bupa New Zealand, The Gardens Rest Home and Hospital, said the children’s fortnightly visits to the Garden have added to the residents’ quality of life.
‘‘It’s like magic. It’s beautiful to see a spark in the residents just being with the youngsters.
‘‘ For me I think of it as a therapeutic ripple effect. The intergenerational interaction brings our residents out of their shells.’’
ABC Rotorua Sunset Centre manager Natalie Hall said the children started visiting the rest home about two months ago.
‘‘We take about six preschoolers to visit the residents at the Garden.
‘‘The children absolutely love it. They get really excited about Garden day.’’
Hall describes the visits as life changing for both the preschoolers and the rest home residents.
‘‘It’s lovely to see them light up when they see each other. It’s neat to see the residents playing with play dough, manipulating the dough and making sculptures with the children.’’
Rotorua Lakes Council’s People Portfolio lead Councillor Merepeka Raukawa-Tait commended the initiative.
‘‘Dementia can be a frightening prospect for many as they age but as a caring community all our older citizens should know, with our increased knowledge and awareness, we are here for them,’’ Raukawa-Tait said.
‘‘I think the visits (to the rest home) have helped our children to learn about kindness, empathy and to understand diversity through getting to know the wonderful people at the rest home, Hall said.
Rotorua Sunset preschoolers.