Kinder program a finalist for HESTA award

The awards recognise individuals and organisations that have made an exceptional contribution to improving older Australians’ quality of life.

The Uniting AgeWell Carnsworth Leisure and Lifestyle Team is a finalist for the Team Innovation Award.  

Led by Coordinator Vindhya Mendis, the team developed a program that brings together the aged care residents and Davis Street Kindergarten children. 

CIRCLE – or Celebrating Intergenerational Relationships and Creating Learning for Everyone – fosters positive interactions and learning between children and aged care residents through games, storytelling and play. 

“This is wonderful industry recognition for Uniting AgeWell and I, along with the lifestyle staff, am very proud to run this program and to be part of an organisation that supports innovation in aged care,” Vindhya said. 

The program is designed to help aged care residents feel more connected to their communities, boost their self-esteem and provide the opportunity to develop relationships with children and other residents. 

Uniting AgeWell CEO Andrew Kinnersly said it was hoped the intergenerational program would delay a decline in cognitive function as well as foster the community connection.

“It is a beautiful thing to watch the children interact with our residents through activities and see them enjoy each other’s company, building trust and friendships,” he said.  

“We have seen really positive changes in our residents and have also seen the children’s confidence grow as new relationships are developed.”

Davis Street Kindergarten director and teacher, Ruth Wallbridge, said the program also benefited the children, “especially those with special needs”.

“It gives them extra attention and develops greater empathy in our children,” she said.

The program has also gained interstate attention.  Tasmanian Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Aged Care and Shadow Assistant Minister for Ageing, Senator Helen Polley, will visit Carnsworth on Wednesday, 8 November to see the CIRCLE program in action.

Award winners will be announced at a ceremony on 23 November in Adelaide, with the winner of each category receiving $10,000.