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.

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