Uniting old and young
Anew monthly ‘playdate’ at Natimuk Nursing Home is bringing together older and younger generations to share experiences and help enhance children’s social and early learning skills.
Play-date instigator, Natimuk doctor Kate Graham, said she first thought about the potential of an intergenerational get-together through interaction with her own children.
“I noticed the effect that bringing my own children on ward rounds had for the residents and I had read about many residential care facilities that were incorporating playgroups and childcare onsite,” she said.
“While Natimuk Nursing Home has always been involved with school and kinder visits, we thought having the opportunity to have younger children involved was a way to extend the engagement between residents and the community to reduce isolation for both residents and new parents, many of whom might not have close family nearby.
“The positive impact of intergenerational play on reducing isolation for the Natimuk residents and also the age range of the activity from birth to 102 is pretty amazing from any perspective.”
Dr Graham said the idea became a reality after she joined forces with Horsham Rural City Council playgroup facilitator Ali Briggs-miller.
“It was a coincidence that Ali was setting up a supported playgroup at Natimuk at the same time,” she said.
“We have been lucky to be supported by money from the Rural Access Quick Win grants program through the Horsham council and a playgroup start-up grant through Playgroups Australia.”
Natimuk Playdate sessions will be at the nursing home on the first Thursday of the month, during school terms, from 10am to 11.30am.
On the remaining Thursdays, Natimuk Playgroup will run at Natimuk Primary School from 10am to 11.45am.
Mrs Briggs-miller said both sessions focused on fun, connections and helping children to learn and grow.
She said the play date involved children up to five years of age and their parents or carers attending the nursing home for a ‘play, chat and morning snack’ with residents.
“We had our first play-date session last week and it went really well,” she said.
“We had five families come along and the kids seemed to respond really well to the environment.
“A lot of the older people were surprised to see so many of the songs and nursery rhymes were still the same.”
Mrs Briggs-miller said the Natimuk Playgroup evolved from a need for a playgroup service in the municipality’s west.
“Kate had successfully applied for some grants and we were able to link in with her and support her vision,” she said.
“We’re really excited about the new playgroup and play dates, which we expect to have a wealth of benefits across generations.”
People can call Mrs Briggs-miller on 0427 532 856 or message Horsham Playgroups on Facebook for more information.