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28 Apr 2017

80+ year age gap no barrier for Selwyn Village residents and their ‘Baby Buddy’ visitors

Residents at Selwyn Village’s rest homes are playing host to mums and their bubs as part of an inspirational ‘Baby Buddies’ visiting programme which is bringing fun, spontaneity, variety and new friendships to the benefit of the residents, their young visitors and the mums alike.

For the past 18 months, Auckland’s Selwyn Village has been hosting weekly visits by a joyful group of local Plunket mothers and their babies and toddlers, as part of The Selwyn Foundation’s unique and holistic approach to providing care and promoting the wellbeing of its residents. During the hour-long, fun-packed sessions, residents read books to the children, help them with arts, crafts and pre-school learning activities, share stories or encourage their young visitors in their singing and dancing performances.

The Foundation’s Registered Diversional Therapist at Selwyn Village, Orquidea Mortera, has been overseeing the programme and says: “There’s something so special about how the little ones and the residents connect. Some of our residents don’t have grandchildren of their own, so these visits can be very uplifting.

“Our residents enjoy a greater sense of belonging and community after spending time with the children. The visits definitely lift people’s spirits and add to the enjoyment of life, inspiring a sense of optimism – and youthfulness even!  They’re a great talking point with everyone for the rest of the day,” she says.  

Selwyn’s residents look forward to welcoming the Baby Buddies and their mums into their homes each week and take an active part in the fun and games.  Kerridge House rest home resident, Erick Deverick, says: “The children definitely keep us busy. They go around singing songs – it’s lovely.”  Liz Raphael of Caswell House rest home comments: “It’s delightful to see everyone interacting with the babies and toddlers and their mums.”

Since communicating with young children inspires spontaneous engagement, enthusiasm and joy, the visits help alleviate some of the effects of age-related conditions; the residents and children encourage one another in the shared activities and obviously enjoy each others’ company.

Orquidea says: “Some of the children like to take rides on the walkers and visit residents in their rooms who may be unable to join the group. One particular little girl likes to sit on a resident’s knees, as she plays the piano. It’s those shared moments that residents really treasure.”

Residents, babies and parents gathered together
Making new friends

Carolyn Berridge, Baby Buddies team leader and local Point Chevalier mum who attends the weekly sessions with her toddler, Sam, says: "This regular contact with the little ones brings back a lot of memories for residents of raising their own children. Many were mothers and fathers before there were things like formula and disposable nappies, so they're always interested to hear how times have changed. Friday mornings have become a really special time for residents, mums and the young ones alike."

The benefits of the initiative equally extend to the Baby Buddy visitors, as such intergenerational relationships are a wonderful way for children to get an understanding of history, context and perspective.  They also help with socialisation and teaching the children how to interact with people different to themselves. For the mums, the visits offer a change of routine and the opportunity to meet others.

“It’s a fact that children benefit from having older people in their lives to help them gain a sense of self-identification. An older person can also meet a child's need for someone to idolise and look up to. And, of course, such admiration and affection also provide an enormous boost for the older person,” says Orquidea.

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