Building relationships that transcend age and language

Singing and dancing to The Hokey Pokey and Twinkle, Twinkle is lighting up the lives of Opal Aged Care residents at Raymond Terrace and opening up avenues of communication once considered parked in a cul de sac.

It’s a result of the commitment of the children and educators at St Nicholas Early Education, Raymond Terrace to promote positive relationships with the local community.

The decision to begin a relationship with Opal came shortly after the opening of the St Nicholas centre in Raymond Terrace, earlier this year. The educational team made a collective decision to find ways of getting the children more involved with their community.

During visits, the children and their educators share stories, sing and dance and play a variety of games with the residents.

The collaboration between the two agencies and its benefit to children and residents is supported by numerous national and international studies that have proven intergenerational relationships between young and old can bring new energy, knowledge, and enthusiasm to each other’s lives. 

“To see the smiles on the residents’ faces when we visit has been really humbling,” Ms Hayes said. “Some of the residents don’t speak very much, and some can’t speak at all, but a smile is something that translates in every language.”

Through their engagement with residents, Ms Hayes said the children are developing their understanding of the reciprocal rights and responsibilities necessary for active community participation.

 “As an agency of the Catholic Diocese [of Maitland-Newcastle], we promote inclusivity and community engagement. We encourage the children in our care to learn the values of the Catholic Church, including the importance of family, acceptance and compassion.

“By taking the children on visits to Opal, we have been able to initiate conversations about their own families and how they feel when they get to spend time with, and do things for, the ones they love.”

Opal residents evidently appreciate the visits, which align with the aged care home’s commitment to residents’ health and wellbeing, which is enhanced through their facilitation of stimulating social and recreational programs and links to the community. 

The children and educators of St Nicholas Early Education, Raymond Terrace, are keen to continue developing their relationship with Opal Aged Care and hope to find additional ways they can build meaningful connections with the local community.

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Alexander Foster

Alexander Foster is the Digital Communications Officer in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle

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