Prince of Wales Hospital Geriatric Medicine Outreach Service

Dr Stephanie Ward, Geriatrician at Prince of Wales Hospital and star of the hit ABC factual-series ‘Old Peoples Home for 4 Year olds’, is determined to see the concept of intergenerational contact adopted at every aged care facility in the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District.

“I think the show, and the popularity of it, is spurring on an appetite in the general community to see young people visiting residents of aged care facilities across the board. The show is really highlighting the benefits to both the residents and to the children,” Dr Ward said.

As part of the Prince of Wales Hospital’s Geriatric Medicine Outreach Service, Dr Ward regularly visits 19 aged care facilities across the hospital’s catchment area to provide much needed medical care for patients who are often too frail to be treated at outpatient clinics or in busy emergency departments.

“We deliver specialised geriatric medical care to older residents of aged care facilities, in their own environment, that they otherwise would not have access to.”

During a recent visit to Southern Cross Care’s Daceyville Nursing Home, Dr Ward was joined by ten Year 5 students from nearby school St Michael’s Primary School who visit the residents on a regular basis.

Alicia Spies, Lifestyle Coordinator, Southern Cross Care Daceyville Nursing Home, said the visits from the children made a huge difference to the residents who looked forward to each visit, often planning the stories they would be sharing ahead of time.

“We have some people here who unfortunately don’t get to have many or sometimes any visitors, so the children coming in gives them a real lift, it gives them a purpose and meaning and so that’s just so powerful,” Ms Spies said.

Daceyville Nursing Home also receives regular visits from surrounding primary schools and child care centres and Dr Ward said this is now becoming a common theme.

“It’s really exciting to see the idea of intergenerational contact really taking off.  We’re seeing that there are already pockets where regular visits from children are a common occurrence at some aged care facilities. The benefits to everyone are enormous,” Dr Ward said.

Bella Tsadikova, a 92-year-old resident of the nursing home, said the visits from the children literally give her a reason to get up.

“I like to just watch them and I love to talk to them about everything. They love to hear our stories and that makes us feel important. We still have good advice to give too for young people growing up,” Ms Tsadikova said.

After a sing-a-long and much story-telling, one of the children could be heard saying upon leaving “when are we coming back next Miss?”

(Pic: Year 5 students from St Michael’s Primary School who visit residents at Southern Cross Care’s Daceyville Nursing Home on a regular basis)

Group of school children with nursing home residents