Bridging the gap between young and old St Vincent's Care

Loneliness and isolation pose significant health risks, with older Australians being particularly at risk of social isolation.  

To encourage social connection for residents and reduce these health risks, several of our homes including Heathcote, Bronte and Kew are now involved in school visit programmes, where students come to spend the day chatting, playing games, and singing with residents.

resident and family member

Heathcote Lifestyle Coordinator, Trish Marino, says that St John Bosco Primary School Year 4 students visit their facility four times a year, an initiative that has been extremely well received by both students and residents.

Things got competitive when students challenged residents to a game of UNO

"After almost 3 years of the program being on hold due to COVID it was so great to have students return to the home this month.” Trish said.

“For many residents who may not have many family members nearby, it’s a wonderful opportunity for them to form bonds with the children. The bond between older people and kids is so special.“Some of the students are finalists in a national public speaking competition and practised their speeches for our residents. 

“They also brought handmade cards and gifts which our residents so thrilled to receive.”

As well as being a positive experience for residents, Trish says that the students have responded well to the program, with many of them looking forward to the visits and forming bonds with residents. 

"We (employees) didn’t have to do much to facilitate the visit. We just stood back and let the residents and children do their thing, playing Chess and Uno and chatting, and it was so beautiful to watch, some of us had a tear in our eye.” Trish said.

“One student who spoke Spanish was able to communicate with a Spanish speaking resident, the resident could hardly believe it.”

Recent studies have shown that intergenerational contact can be extremely beneficial in addressing loneliness in older people. We’re looking forward to seeing more school visits in future across our facilities!

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