Whitford Playcentre tackles social isolation in elderly

Cassie and Sammi show off their portfolios of learning stories.

Children from Whitford Playcentre visited Gulf Views Rest Home in Cockle Bay aiming to build a relationship between the youngsters and the elderly residents.

Whitford Playcentre is a small, rural early childhood education (ECE) centre where parents who are trained in ECE attend with their children.

The children and parents decided to visit the retirement home after seeing examples from overseas about the benefits to both groups.

International research shows that social isolation and loneliness are causing health issues in the elderly population but that intergenerational friendships can improve their wellbeing, including combating helplessness and boredom, and improving memory.

Nurse manager Sue Milton said that many people don’t bring children to the home and that the Friday August 24  visit “lit up their eyes and bought joy to their hearts”.

Six month old Marko was doted on by many of the elderly residents.

The visit will not only benefit the Gulf Views residents … one of the four principles of Te Whariki, New Zealand’s internationally acclaimed early childhood curriculum, states that “the wider world of family and community is an integral part of the early childhood curriculum” and that “children learn and develop best when their culture, knowledge and community are affirmed and when the people in their lives help them to make connections across settings.”

Three-year-old Cassie said: “I loved showing them my portfolio. They said that my painting was really special.”

Joshua, also three, exclaimed: “I had fun when we sung Baby Shark and did all the actions”.

Whitford Playcentre is open every weekday morning and is open for newborn to children up to six-years-old.

Whilst based in rural Whitford, the children venture into their community a few times every term. This visit is the first of an ongoing commitment to strengthening relationships with and supporting the elderly within the community.