They’ve been given a new lease on life, a chance to get in touch with old roots and to reconnect with their younger selves - and the little ones couldn’t be more excited about it.
Just under two years ago, the Grandfriends programme - a partnership between St John’s Wood Rest Home and Laughton Kindergarten - was set up.
Every two weeks, eight children walk down to the rest home with two teachers and two parent helpers where they share in morning tea, draw pictures, make things in the man cave and generally learn about each other.
It has been described as one of the highlights of the residents’ social calendar.
‘‘The children get us very excited,’’ resident, John Melling, said. "They get us up out of our chairs and I like doing that.’’
Former business and care manager for St John’s Wood, Cushla Wolland, brain stormed the idea after noticing some of the residents were lonely.
Along with activity co-ordinator, Raewyn Heke, the Grandfriends programme was formed.
‘‘I thought it would be a really good idea and now it’s becoming a community connection,’’ she said. ‘‘It was something that needed to happen and it just worked.’’
Mary-Anne Smith, a grandparent to one of the children, agreed.
‘‘It’s a brilliant initiative. The children are just so refreshing,’’ she said. ‘‘It’s a two part thing. Some of the little ones don’t have grandparents and some of the residents don’t have grandchildren. The kids have heard some interesting stories and learnt quite a lot. It’s just precious.’’
The program was recognised at the New Zealand Aged Care Awards where St John’s Wood won the EBOS Healthcare Overall Excellence in Care Award, and the MediMap Community Connections Award.
While at the rest home on Thursday, an award presentation was done with the children and residents in attendance.
As a surprise, the kindergarten was presented with a $5000 cheque to go towards their intergenerational learning.
‘‘We are blown away,’’ head teacher Jan Smith said. ’’It’s been a real work in progress but the relationships are growing.
Smith said the children talk about the residents as family members.