A new Intergenerational Reminiscence Guide for aged care organisations and secondary schools has been launched by Meaningful Ageing Australia and Carrington, a NSW aged care organisation.

This handbook explains how to run a successful intergenerational reminiscence program in aged care by supporting students to spend time with an older person who has the opportunity to tell the stories that matter to them.

Students then produce a memento for the older person to keep, and a special event is held to present their final product and celebrate the person’s life with them and their family.

It is based on the successful Through our Eyes program refined over the past seven years by Carrington with Magdalene Catholic High School in Camden, NSW. The program won Meaningful Ageing’s 2016 Award for national aged care quality pastoral and spiritual care practice and formed the basis for the Guide.

Many aged care facilities already run these sorts of programs that recognise the positive benefits for both the students in understanding older people, and the older person in recalling important moments in their life.

“This Guide helps those who would like to start or improve a program on how to go about it,” said Ilsa Hampton, Meaningful Ageing CEO.

“It provides details on how to establish partnerships with local schools; select and brief student participants and older people, monitoring the partnerships; recognise and celebrate the final product with all participants including families; and handle specific issues and challenges such as the death of an older person during the project.

“It also provides useful resources for   project participation, selections, interviews, and reviewing the program from the point of view of the older person, family and the student.

“Part of our quality awards process is that the award recipient shares what they have learnt so others can benefit from their work,” she said. “Through our collective efforts, we can improve on each older person’s experience of aged care.

“There is a lot of evidence that reminiscence is an important part of ageing. This program is particularly important in giving the older person a reason to tell their story; and to be celebrated by those around them.”

“The Carrington Intergenerational Program was designed to bring together the younger and the older generations within our community in Camden, emphasising two-way communication of knowledge and life experiences between our older generation and younger students embarking on their own life journey,” said Carrington’s Chief Executive Raad Richards.

“It is about breaking the barriers between generations, providing opportunities for students to develop their communication skills and confidence and establishing a lasting connection to their community”.

How participants see it:

“I gained so much from this project. The Magdalene girls gave me an understanding of their time of life compared with mine.” (Resident)

“The three young folk became very special to my mum because they were interested in her, for herself. She taught them how to crochet and they really entered into her present situation and life. She felt valued because they asked about her former life and what was special to her.” (Family member)

“I would most definitely consider volunteering my time to assist in aged care.” (Student)

“Getting to know these special people has been the most exceptional experience and I would love to take care of older people in the future.” (student)

Meaningful Ageing Media contact: Ilsa Hampton, Meaningful Ageing Australia ihampton@meaningfulage.org.au  : 03 8387 2616

The Guide can be purchased from Meaningful Ageing at www.meaningfulageing.org.au/resources

For interviews with Carrington, contact Raad Richards   0419206 240: 02 4659 0306.

He will be able to organise interviews with students, and the program co-ordinator Julie Philpott.