Building intergenerational bonds
Posted on June 7, 2023
For the past three months, Occupational Therapy students Allison and Stella have been visiting Juniper St David’s Residential Aged Care Home every Wednesday, where they have not only gained valuable on-the-job experience but also built a friendly rapport with residents.
As third-year Occupational Therapy students at Curtin University, both Allison and Stella have been involved in the intergenerational service learning program, which is focused on providing a two-way learning experience for both students and the older volunteers.
As part of their placement, students visit a residential aged care home each week. They work alongside residents to learn how to help residents engage in everyday activities that they may find difficult by coming up with ways to make tasks easier, or identify changes to their environment that could suit the resident’s individual needs.
The program is currently run across four Juniper Residential Aged Care homes, including Hayloft, Riverslea and Chrystal Halliday.
For Allison and Stella, the placement at St David’s marks their first experience in an aged care setting.
“It’s been really enjoyable getting to know the residents,” Allison said.
“I’m really impressed by the activities run by the therapy team here, and it’s been a great learning experience for me, as I’ve picked up a lot of things along the way.
“I just love that we get to create relationships with the residents, and you get that satisfaction as well that you’re helping them improve each time you see them.”
While Allison has a long-held connection to Juniper through her father, who worked as a carer at Juniper Riverslea Residential Aged Care Home, she said the placement at St David’s has opened her eyes to considering a career in aged care.
“I hadn’t considered working in aged care before doing this placement, but I’d definitely think about it now once I graduate,” she said.
Stella said her first experience in aged care was “much different” to what she had first thought it would be.
“The staff have been so helpful, what I enjoyed most was getting to know people from all walks of life and I love hearing the residents’ stories from when they were growing up,” Stella said.
“I also don’t get to see my grandparents much, so coming here has kind of given me that connection to older people and I’ve really enjoyed it. I’d definitely consider working in aged care as an OT once I graduate.”
Juniper is proud to partner with local universities like Curtin University to provide Nursing and Occupational Therapy students with a hands-on, practical experience that gives them a real insight into a career in the aged care sector, guided by the expertise and knowledge of Juniper’s kind, compassionate staff.
Juniper residents also benefit from the interactions and the skills and knowledge brought by students like Stella and Allison.
St David’s resident Ann, 77, said she has enjoyed spending time with the students each week.
“It’s been divine having the girls here – they’ve really encouraged me to get moving,” Ann said.
“I’ve really enjoyed having them here. It’s nice to see young faces in the home, I love talking to them.”
Watch the video of Allison and Ann below!