Myrtleford Lodge residents delight in the playgroup experience
Aged care residents at Myrtleford Lodge are enjoying the company and companionship of young locals through a playgroup initiative which is bringing universal delight.
Participants aged between two months and 101 years meet weekly for “playgroup at the lodge” which brings together more than a dozen children aged between four months and five years, their parents, and students from the local high school, to connect with residents.
For 88 year old Doreen McIlroy the playgroup sessions bring back fond memories of her time working in early childhood and other education spaces, and are something that she treasures.
“I can’t believe the change in children. They’re much more advanced,” Mrs McIlroy shared with the ABC.
While she is blessed to have grandchildren and great-grandchildren that she sees, having the playgroup come to Myrtleford Lodge is beneficial for everyone involved.
“There’s a few old people here that really see nobody. They don’t ever get the opportunity to get out,” she said.
“It’s lovely that they can come.”
The playgroup is a relatively recent development for Myrtleford Lodge, but the connection with the local high school has been in place for nearly 10 years. Department of Education adolescent health nurse Rosemary Dax works at Myrtleford P12 College and set up the visits eight years ago after visiting her own mother in aged care.
“She was looked after really, really well, but there was so much downtime, and I’d look around and watch all these people,” Ms Dax shared with the ABC.
“There was so much wisdom and knowledge and I felt like it’s just been wasted.”
From that place, Ms Dax reached out to Myrtleford Lodge, and the students began to visit once a week.
This consistency has helped even residents with advanced dementia to remember ‘the feeling’ of being visited, even if they don’t recognise the visitors.
“I say to the students all the time … while we’re there, those people have got an hour of time that they really enjoy, they reflect on their past, they share their story with someone that hasn’t heard it.”
Earlier this year, Ms Dax put plans into motion to bring even younger children in, and has immediately seen the students adapt.
“I noticed that growth in empathy and then, as we walk back [to school], often students will say, ‘Oh, I really liked that person or that person’, or ‘I saw that someone didn’t see any of the babies, so I took a baby over to them,’ without any instruction,” Ms Dax said.
“Once you start [these things] and they work, why would you ever let them go?” Ms Dax said.
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