Griffith University research is demonstrating how merging child care and aged-care systems, with the widespread implementation of intergenerational care programs can enhance engagement and create a special bond between generations.
Led by Dr Katrina Radford, Professor Anneke Fitzgerald and Dr Nerina Vechhio from Griffith Business School, the Intergenerational Care Project aims to contribute to building age-friendly communities by developing, implementing and evaluating an intergenerational learning program in Australia.
Project manager Dr Xanthe Golenko says the programs had a positive impact on the sense of well-being among the elderly and improved confidence and communication skills in children.
“Findings also indicate a positive impact on the participating organisations by broadening their perspectives on new types of services which benefit their clients,’’ she said.
The project focused on two models of intergenerational care.
- A co-location model where an aged-care centre is located in the same place as a childcare centre
- A visitation model where childcare and aged-care centres are located separately and one group travels to visit the other.
The study was conducted within four research sites located across South East Queensland and New South Wales and involved six organisations. The project involved older people living with early stages of cognitive decline, and children aged three to five years.
“While the benefits of intergenerational programs are widely recognised, there is little understanding around the business case and what is needed to operationalise intergenerational programs within different models of care,’’ Dr Golenko said.
“The key objective of this project was to prepare, trial and evaluate two innovative models of intergenerational care in Australia
“Preliminary findings from our research indicate that the aged care and childcare workforce were generally hesitant coming into the program, however upon completion, felt more positive and that an intergenerational practice qualification with appropriate training should be pursued.”
Early indications of the economic evaluation suggest minimal financial impact on organisations and opportunities for cost savings through shared and more efficient use of resources.
“The impact of this research has been profound. Since beginning this project in 2017, the interest in intergenerational programs has grown immensely and there is a groundswell with building momentum within child care and aged care sectors and among the general community.”