Griffith University well-being survey: Preparing for an intergenerational practice pilot in Western Australia during COVID-19

In order to better understand and respond to the needs of older Australians living independently, Griffith University researchers partnered with Western Australian not-for-profit community organisations to conduct a Wellness survey.

The Griffith Well-being Survey, part of the Western Australia Intergenerational Practice Pilot, explores the level of well-being experienced by older people living independently, especially in terms of loneliness and resilience in the current climate. The aim of the well-being survey is to explore the general state of well-being of older people in Australia during COVID-19.

Surveys were conducted between August and December 2020. Over 450 surveys were collected at Melville Cares, and Astley Care as part of the Social Support Group services through the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP). In addition, surveys were collected at, Mercy Village, MercyCare Retirement Village, Alchera Living and Southcare.

Where necessary, the surveys responses were collected by staff and volunteers at the various homes, using face-face and phone interviews and a number of participants completed the survey independently. Conducting the surveys via one-on-one interviews not only produced valuable data, the individual conversations held between staff and older people created an opportunity for heartfelt conversation and reflection, leading to overwhelmingly positive feedback from members of staff and participants alike.

Overall, the findings indicate that higher levels of hope, resilience and social networking experienced by the person, resulted in a higher level of personal well-being.

While well-being is predicted to decrease with higher levels of loneliness during COVID-19, our findings show that higher levels of social networking reduce the negative feelings and experiences of loneliness.

Our preliminary findings point to the conclusion that COVID-19 in itself is not necessarily leading to an increase in loneliness if coupled with social networking. This finding is significant as it appears that on average participants of the Wellness Survey across Melville Cares, MercyCare, Alchera Living, Astley Care and Southcare have not suffered significant decreases in their ability to maintain their social network and generally feel connected to their communities despite the difficult climate.

The Wellness survey is part of an evidence base for an Intergenerational Practice Pilot to be conducted in 2021 through a collaboration between Griffith University and WA Community Organisations–MercyCare and residents at Mercy Village and Magis students at John XXIII College.

The aim of the pilot is to investigate the connections made between older and young people through a virtual intergenerational learning program. The WA Intergenerational Practice Pilot involves the development, implementation and evaluation of a virtual intergenerational learning program specifically designed to benefit both children and older people building on previous work undertaken in NSW.

The pilot will consist of older residents and students participating in a specific intergenerational learning program conducted over 6 hours of shared learning activities, using video conferencing technology. The sessions will be facilitated by MercyCare staff trained in Intergenerational Care and by the Magis Coordinator at John XXIII College.

The Griffith research team would like to thank all the students at John XXIII College, residents at Mercy Village and members of staff and volunteers from Alchera Living, Astley Care, Melville Cares, MercyCare, and Southcare and for their support and enthusiasm for this project. A special thank you to Cromwell Property Group Foundation for funding this research project.

Griffith University’s Intergenerational Practice Research Team consists of:

  • Professor Emeritus Anneke Fitzgerald, Business Strategy and Innovation
  • Dr Gaery Barbery, Health Services Management
  • Gabriela Di Perna, Business Strategy and Innovation
  • Dr Katrina Radford, Business Strategy and Innovation
  • Associate Professor Neil Harris, Public Health
  • Dr Jennifer Cartmel, Human Services and Social Work

For more information about this project, please contact Gabriela Di Perna, Project Manager of the Intergenerational Practice Pilot in Western Australia via [email protected] or on 0402114626.