SwanCare Waminda and Carson Street School team up for grandparent program

Lillian Pelham and Mandy. Picture: Will Russell
Lillian Pelham and Mandy. Picture: Will Russell

BENTLEY seniors have been forming special friendships with young children living with disabilities, thanks to a partnership between SwanCare and the Carson Street School.

A group of residents living at the facility’s Waminda aged care facility in Bentley have become ‘adopted grannies and grandpas’ for young special needs children from the school, as part of an interactive program that is bridging intergenerational gaps.

About eight Carson Street School students who have Down Syndrome, Cantu Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy or autism visit SwanCare every Wednesday morning, where they spend time doing schoolwork with the help of their adopted grandparents.

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Eight SwanCare residents volunteer their own time to help build the children’s reading and writing skills; and there is usually some time leftover to play games together afterwards too.

The residents also help to show students the value of respect for others, which is an important part of the Carson Street School’s ethos.

Diversional therapy co-ordinator Annemarie Kluvers said it had been a joy to watch special friendships forming between young people and residents since the partnership kicked off in June 2015.

“There is so much that young people can learn from older people and vice versa,” she said.

“Not all of our residents have the chance to see their own grandchildren regularly, so they absolutely love the opportunity to spend time with their ‘adopted grandchildren’ from the Carson St School.”

SwanCare residents recently returned the favour to visit students at the Carson Street School, where they enjoyed a morning tea and got to flex their skills playing bingo in teams with students.

SwanCare chief executive Graham Francis said the intergenerational partnership helped break down barriers between young and old people, while contributing to the seniors’ sense of “belonging to the community”.

“It’s important for people in aged care to continue feeling a sense of purpose, meaning and belonging – so by helping young children practice their literacy skills they can impart some of their own wisdom while gaining a sense of achievement and reward themselves,” he said.