A new way of connecting local students and retirement village residents

Pearl and Chris
Heritage Christian School student Pearl crafting with RSL LifeCare Port Macquarie Le Hamel Village resident Chris. [Source: Supplied]

Inspired by the heart-warming reality television series Old People’s Home for Teenagers, RSL LifeCare has been running a pilot program that brings together students from Heritage Christian School in Port Macquarie and residents of the RSL LifeCare Port Macquarie Le Hamel Village on a weekly basis.

Designed to foster meaningful connections between generations, the Seen and Heard pilot program highlights the importance of fostering ‘offline’ connections outside of social media for students, while also helping older people fight loneliness – a condition that’s experienced by one in five Aussies aged 65 and over – which can be detrimental to both physical and mental health.

Sophie, Locky and Brian
Students Isla and Sophie with residents Brian and Locky showing off their baking efforts. [Source: Supplied]

The weekly sessions feature activities such as speed interviews, scavenger hunts, games days and knowledge sessions where students have taught the seniors about technology and the seniors have taught the students important life skills.

Le Hamel Village resident Locky Christensen only joined the program to help make up the numbers but soon grew quite affectionate towards the interactions.

“[It was] excellent. I went into it not sure how it would go and to help make up numbers, I soon changed my attitude because of the kids. I looked forward to it every week!” he said. 

Fellow resident Chris Newman said she was surprised by the program’s benefits. 

Pearl, Chris and Karen
Pearl learning to crochet with Chris and fellow resident Karen. [Source: Supplied]

Student participants have also enjoyed participating in the program who have found it to bring joy, happiness and motivation.

Pearl said the program has given her some motivation to get into school on Mondays and loves chatting to residents who “have been making me feel really loved and appreciated.”

“I love hearing all about their lives and I loved it when Locky said ‘You guys made my day’, I love seeing how much fun they have when they are chatting and doing activities and it definitely puts me in a good mood too!” said another student Isla. 

Given all the positive feedback, RSL LifeCare is looking at potentially rolling out the pilot to its other villages across NSW and ACT.

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