It was wonderful to see the exceptional Intergenerational Student Live-In Project at Holy Spirit Dubbo Sydney featured in the Australian Ageing Agenda’s July-August 2023 edition.
Sydney University students Thea Bianchini and Will Stevens lived in Holy Spirit’s onsite four-room accommodation while participating in the intergenerational program.
‘This is a new pilot that hasn’t been offered in a rural setting before,’ said Dr Sanetta du Toit, Sydney University’s Director of the Master of Occupational Therapy program.
An initiative of Sydney University’s School of Health offered in partnership with residential aged care, the program offers social interactions between residential aged care residents and student neighbours.
The program was first offered in 2019 at Scalabrini Villages Bexley, and, soon after, at Calvary Ryde. The program has now evolved and expanded to include St Catherine’s Bathurst and Holy Spirit Dubbo.
Holy Spirit Dubbo was chosen as a regional site based on recommendations from Catholic Healthcare’s Chef and Operations Support, Renier du Pleiss, and after meetings with Holy Spirit staff.
‘What is incredible about Holy Spirit is that the lifestyle coordinator runs activities for residents on Friday afternoons and weekends. Will and Thea found their visits so enjoyable that they spent twice as much time with residents as required,” said Sanetta.
Creative activities with residents resulted in Will producing a poster and Thea a video.
'On Saturday mornings, we worked with the lifestyle coordinator to help the residents complete craft activities, including making jewellery and pictures out of buttons or leaves/bark,' said Thea.
'I also made the time to visit residents one-on-one, to give them time to share stories with me, show me their craft hanging up on their walls, and just to chat,' she said.
Activities associated with student live-in programs enable students, as neighbours, to get to know older people as individuals and to contribute to their local community through volunteerism.
Research has shown that the experience for students and residents is mutually beneficial, with residents developing a kinship with students, referring to them as their grandchildren.
‘I am extremely impressed with the students and staff and how the residents embraced them, and I would love the program at Holy Spirit to be ongoing,’ said Sanetta.
OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY STUDENTS NEEDING SUPERVISION IN DUBBO
Holy Spirit Dubbo is uniquely placed to support occupational therapy students in fulfilling their course requirements. Students must undertake a 7-week placement with an upper-registered occupational therapist, and Sydney University is seeking placement opportunities for students in the greater Dubbo area. If you are interested in providing supervision, please email email@example.com