Older people are often the best stories tellers. As a Gen Y, I still love listening to the stories of older people, particularly when I get the chance to visit a residential aged care facility. Their tales of love, heartbreak, regrets and wisdom continue to intrigue me. It’s also one of those beautiful and rare moments where young and old come together.
More and more aged care providers are seeing the value of intergenerational activities – at Ellis Jones, we call this activity community engagement.
Rather than looking to create brand awareness through costly traditional marketing exercises such as advertising, some providers are seeing the value of introducing residents programs designed to keep older people connected to their community and loved ones through networking.
In practice, bringing young and old people together is surprisingly simple. Providers network with a local primary school or secondary college and invite the students to participate in stimulating activities with aged care residents.
In time, friendships are true connections are born between individuals who would normally never have crossed paths. The best part is that it’s easy to implement and increases the prospect of meaningful relationships. It’s also a chance for older people, particularly those who are frail and struggle with mobility to still feel like they’re part of the community.
From a brand building perspective, intergenerational activities are gold because the engagement process goes beyond those involved in the program. I had the chance to witness first-hand how parents also play a special role in these intergenerational activities. On one occasion, parents of students were invited to attend a special event held at the residential facility. Students held a special Christmas play for residents and their families. Parents of students got to watch their child perform.
At this event, I noticed how much parents valued the chance to witness their child be part of an event held within the community. Their knowledge about the aged care provider also increased as they got to see first-hand, the good work of this aged care provider.
Perhaps this type of engagement will lead to increased aged care enquiries for this respective provider. How? Maybe when these parents come to the inevitable and tough decision of having to choose an aged care provider for their loved one, they’ll think of the Christmas carols performance and the positive experience they shared with this aged care provider. They’ll remember the joy experienced by their children and residents, and remember the professional and clean environment. It’s likely this provider may become their preferred choice – and that’s the beauty of community engagement, it’s all about building lasting relationships.