An interdisciplinary team of researchers from Griffith Business School and the Menzies Health Institute Queensland led by Professor Anneke Fitzgerald (program evaluation), and Dr Katrina Radford (workforce evaluation) from the Department of Business Strategy and Innovation, and by Dr Nerina Vecchio (economic evaluation) from the Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics, are in the final stage of a project, that has successfully trialled two intergenerational care models with learning programs that improve the wellbeing of people with cognitive decline.

Prof. Anneke Fitzgerald, Dr Vecchio, Dr Radford

The research: A trial to evaluate innovative models of respite care – implementing an inter-generational community day care centre for Australians living with dementia, was financed by the Australian Government’s Dementia and Aged Care Services fund, and later named the Intergenerational Care (IGC) project.

It follows the team’s earlier research that examined child care and aged care sectors in 2014, and other studies covering policy analysis, global programs, preference models and feasibility.

“Most of the research we are doing, is multidisciplinary first off, but secondly it’s all developmental,” said Professor Fitzgerald.

“Our project is unique in that it focuses on building a strong business case for operating intergenerational care projects in Australia. In particular, we are interested in building a strong education pedagogy that fits within child care and aged care sectors as well as exploring the workforce and economic cost/benefit analysis that sits behind the innovative program to keep it a sustainable practice for industry,” said Dr Radford.

The IGC project involves children and elderly people interacting in a day care facility with structured learning program activities once a week, over 16 weeks, under the supervision of formally trained caregivers. Two different models of care were trialled, one a shared campus model and the other a visiting campus model. It’s suggested an Intergenerational model of care, which includes learning programs should be considered to assist people living with dementia.

“Our project ran 16 sessions over 16 weeks, across 6 different organisations throughout QLD and NSW. While some industry partners were established before the grant, some were newly established because of the grant opportunity. Since the trial completed, some of our partners have continued a revised program,” said Dr Radford.

“The Intergenerational Care program involves putting together younger (aged 3-5 years) and older (aged 65+) people in a purposeful manner to share in educational experiences, that involves learning from each other under the supervision of formally trained caregivers.”

“What we have done is actually incredibly hopeful and uplifting, and builds resilience in the community. It’s been really good to work on, one of the nicest projects I have ever worked on,” said Professor Fitzgerald.

Please click here to read the full “Intergenerational Care – Successful trials deliver wellbeing between the generations” written by Troy Miller.