The lives of more older community members are being enhanced by the Grandfriends program thanks to our donors who supported the initiative at Giving Day in 2022.
Thursday continues to be the day of the week where smiles span from ear to ear for the young and the young at heart at The Prince Charles Hospital Early Education Centre.
The Grandfriends program connects older members of the community – who are past patients of The Prince Charles Hospital – and kindergarten children at the childcare centre through ageless play. It began as a short trial in 2022 to address concerns like social isolation and loneliness among older patients; but its “enormous benefits” were evident from the get-go, and the intergenerational play sessions quickly became a regular occurrence.
“It gives them something to look forward to each week. It gives them a sense of purpose. Many of our attendees have started engaging in other activities as part of coming along to grandfriends. So, they have improved their confidence,” said Fiona Hope, Manager of the hospital’s Older Persons Mental Health Team.
Giving Day Funds Program’s Expansion in 2023
The program has doubled in size in 2023 thanks to the support generated at The Common Good’s Giving Day last year, expanding from one kindergarten room to two kindergarten rooms.
That funding has directly led to the addition of a peer support worker who transports several of the new attendees to the centre and oversees one of the sessions.
“When I pick these people up in the mornings, they’re standing on the pavement waiting on me. The excitement on their faces when they see the car pull up is astonishing,” Peer Worker Rob MacIntyre said.
“It’s a privilege to be part of this fantastic programme. You can see the joy on their faces when they get together. It’s a highlight of my week to come here and participate.”
The weekly get-togethers involve a wide range of activities that benefit both the kindy kids and the grandfriends, such as singing, reading, storytelling, flower arranging, crafting and more.
The grandfriends who have added this ageless play program to their weekly schedule in 2023 could not be more grateful.
One grandfriend used to coach squash, and since retiring several years ago, he’s struggled with his identity, a lack of purpose and felt socially isolated.
“I come to the same group here every week. You get to know each other; you grow a friendship with the other grandfriends. It’s a 10/10. I can’t fault it,” he said.
The health workers say the change they’ve noticed in this grandfriend is palpable.
“This attendee started a monthly lunch for grandfriends to catch up with each other after the group. His personal growth since he joined grandfriends is phenomenal. He’s found his sense of humour and his enjoyment again in life. He’s actually blossomed. In fact, he’s also just joined the choir,” said Rob.
Some Grandfriends Attend in 2022 and 2023
Some of these grandfriends have been fortunate to attend this year and last and look forward to each session just as much as ever.
My grandchildren have all grown up, so it’s nice to spend time with the little ones. Coming to grandfriends is fun, it’s enjoyable. It gets me out of the house, and I enjoy the company. It’s lovely,” one Grandfriend said.
This grandfriend also cherishes the opportunity to catch up with her fellow grandfriends over morning tea.
“I was isolated, moving from north Queensland down here I left friends behind and hadn’t made many here since moving,” she said.
Another grandfriend who has been attending both years was a professional musician. He brings in instruments, performing and sharing his skills and love of music with the children.
“It’s great to play for the children. They’re right into it, and they surprise me with their knowledge of music,” he said.
“I wish there were more days that I could come in and do the same thing, so I look forward to the one day a week, but I’d like more if I could.”
The Common Good’s Giving Day 2023
In 2023, The Common Good is hosting its annual Giving Day on Wednesday, October 25.