The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has awarded $3.7 million over five years to intergenerational researchers across University of New South Wales, University of Sydney, Griffith University, University of Queensland and other areas to conduct clinical trials to see if community-based intergenerational practice effectively reduces frailty in our aging population.
Frailty has been described as the ‘public health crisis for an ageing society’. As many as 24 percent of older Australians are frail, with heightened vulnerability and susceptibility to stressors, and growing economic and societal costs. The ABC TV show ‘Old People’s Home for Four Year Olds’ has shown on-screen benefits from a non-familial intergenerational practice—by bringing together community-dwelling older adults and preschoolers to reduce the older adults frailty. The show’s popularity has led communities around Australia to instigate similar intergenerational programs. However, our recent systematic review finds only small-scale, largely qualitative evidence for such intergenerational practice.
Given the potential benefit at low interventional cost, we will establish whether (and to what degree) community-based intergenerational practice effectively reduces frailty in our aging population. To do this, the INTErGenerational Intervention to Reduce fraIlTY (INTEGRITY) trial extends our pilot studies to rigorously test an intergenerational practice program using a cluster randomised, blinded endpoints clinical trial bringing community-dwelling older adults and preschool children together in 44 clusters.
The community-based INTEGRITY trial has been co-conceived and co-designed with a community and stakeholder team. Chief investigators include Ruth Peters, Kenneth Rockwood, Anneke Fitzgerald, Susan Kurrle, Ruth Hubbard, Monika Janda and Craig Anderson along with several associate investigators, most of whom are members of the Australian Institute for Intergenerational Practice (AIIP).
Associate Professor Ruth Peters said, “The trial will establish the first robust evidence for community-based intergenerational practice.”
“These results will help improve and inform both current and future practice programs.”
We have found that the best way to set up this community-based research is to base the delivery of the intergenerational practice around preschools and we are currently building a list of preschools that might be interested in participating.
To be part of this research we are looking for preschools where the preschool educators are interested in getting involved and where the preschool has a hall attached or close by where we could hold the intergenerational sessions bringing together 10 of the preschool children and 10 older adults from the local community. We might not be able to take everyone who is interested but we are keen to hear from you if this describes your preschool!