Griffith University research demonstrates the value of merging ECEC with aged care

Griffith University research demonstrates the value of merging ECEC with aged care

by Freya Lucas

September 03, 2019

Researchers from Queensland’s Griffith University have demonstrated how merging childcare and aged-care systems can enhance engagement and create a special bond between generations.

 

Led by Dr Katrina Radford, Professor Anneke Fitzgerald and Dr Nerina Vechhio from Griffith Business School, the Intergenerational Care Project aims to contribute to building age-friendly communities by developing, implementing and evaluating an intergenerational learning program in Australia.

 

Project manager Dr Xanthe Golenko said the programs had a positive impact on the sense of well-being among the elderly and improved confidence and helped to foster communication skills in children. A bonus effect for participating organisations has been to broaden their perspectives on new types of services which benefit their clients, she said.

 

Two models of intergenerational care were focused on in the research: 

 

  • A co-location model where an aged-care centre is located in the same place as a childcare centre; and, 
  • A visitation model where childcare and aged-care centres are located separately and one group travels to visit the other.

 

The study was conducted within four research sites located across South East Queensland and New South Wales and involved six organisations. The project involved older people living with early stages of cognitive decline, and children aged three to five years.

 

“While the benefits of intergenerational programs are widely recognised, there is little understanding around the business case and what is needed to operationalise intergenerational programs within different models of care,’’ Dr Golenko said.

 

“The key objective of this project was to prepare, trial and evaluate two innovative models of intergenerational care in Australia.” 

 

“Preliminary findings from our research indicate that the aged-care and childcare workforce were generally hesitant coming into the program, however upon completion, felt more positive and that an intergenerational practice qualification with appropriate training should be pursued,” she added. 

 

Early indications of the economic evaluation suggest minimal financial impact on organisations and opportunities for cost savings through shared and more efficient use of resources.

 

Dr Golenko said the impact of the research had been “profound”. Since the research began in 2017, she said, the interest in intergenerational programs has “grown immensely and there is a groundswell of momentum building within childcare and aged-care sectors and among the general community.”

To learn more about the research, please see here

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