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07 Sep 2017

Baby Buddies initiative wins ‘Community Connections’ award for The Selwyn Foundation

The Foundation has won the 2017 New Zealand Aged Care Association/Medi-Map ‘Community Connections’ Award for our unique community outreach ‘Baby Buddies’ visiting programme.

The initiative involves Selwyn’s care home residents playing host to mums and their babies and toddlers each week, and brings fun, spontaneity, variety and new friendships to the benefit of everyone taking part.

The award was announced last night during the New Zealand Aged Care Association’s (NZACA) annual conference, following our submission and presentation on the positive psychological and social effects that the weekly visits achieve for all concerned. By bringing people together and strengthening community links, the visits are having a huge impact on people's quality of life and overall wellbeing.

The benefits are reciprocal.  By opening their home to the mothers and babies – and sharing their knowledge, wisdom and experience – residents have meaningful engagement with members of the local community and are able to make a positive difference in the lives of some vulnerable members of the neighbourhood.  For new mums who may have no close family nearby, the visits offer the chance to meet others and also provide valuable socialisation opportunities for their little ones.

The Foundation’s Group Diversional Therapist, Orquidea Mortera, who introduced the programme says: “Baby Buddies have a wonderful influence on the lives of both our female and male residents, who have developed some great new friendships in the local area as a result.

“The visits definitely lift people’s spirits and add to the enjoyment of life, inspiring a sense of optimism and a greater feeling of belonging and community. Since communicating with young children inspires spontaneous engagement, enthusiasm and joy, our residents feel reinvigorated and refreshed as a result of the interaction.  The time spent with the mums and bubs is a great talking point with everyone for the rest of the day,” she says.  

The Baby Buddies visits also ease some of the effects of age-related conditions and benefit residents with serious memory loss or cognitive and physical limitations.

Developing strong connections with the community can have tremendous benefits for young and old alike. For young mums, social contact with others can help reduce feelings of loneliness that can lead to post-natal depression. During the hour-long, fun-packed sessions, both groups take an active part in each other’s lives through birthday celebrations, reminiscence, learning, fun activities and games.  

The initiative is part of Selwyn’s unique and holistic approach to providing care and promoting the wellbeing of its residents.  Our ‘Engagement-in-life’ focus centres on creating joyful opportunities for residents, and helping each person maintain their life-long interests that bring them joy, meaning and emotional contentment.

Orquidea says: “The visits bring back a lot of happy memories for residents of raising their own children. But the benefits go two-way, with the mums appreciating the opportunity to connect with others, not to mention all the collective parenting wisdom and reassurances they get from our residents. Such intergenerational contact also teaches the children how to interact with people different to themselves.”

The prestigious NZACA/EBOS Healthcare ‘Excellence in Care’ Awards highlight the continuous pursuit of excellence by residential aged care homes and their staff.  The ‘Community Connections’ Award recognises exceptional effort by aged care providers in catering for residents’ needs and preferences by creating a feeling of community within a care home, or by outreach to the surrounding community, or connecting residents with family and friends. 

This is the third time that The Selwyn Foundation has won an NZACA Award.  We were a recipient last year, when we received the ‘Innovative Delivery’ Award for our use of PARO therapeutic robotic seals in our residential aged care homes, and in 2010 for the introduction of our ‘At Home at Selwyn’ model of care, (which also received the supreme award for ‘Overall Excellence in Aged Care’ the same year).

Anyone interested in further information on setting up a Baby Buddies programme within an aged care environment can contact Orquidea Mortera at orquideam@selwyncare.org.nz