The children’s weekly visits are an initiative of Clayton centre director, Kashmira Bhathena, whose passion for community connection has helped many children to engage with a generation they often have no contact with.
“I have a lot of belief in the importance of community connection and I feel it’s essential for our children to be connected and have a sense of belonging with the community they live in,” Ms Bhathena said.
“A lot of children in our centre have grandparents who live overseas and don’t get the chance to interact with people of this generation.
“It’s great to be able to create opportunities for the children to meet the elderly residents and learn about how things were done years ago compared to now, how to communicate with people much older than them, and different expectations of respect and behaviour.
“Children now live in a very fast-paced life and I believe it’s beneficial for them to be with people who have much more time to share experiences.”
Lifestyle coordinator at BUPA Clayton, Annette Karipidis, has passed on feedback from residents about the visits which show the benefits are felt both ways.
“Our residents look forward to interacting and playing with the children, seeing their smiling faces and hearing their sweet little laughs,” Ms Karipidis said.
“One of our residents told me that he was not lucky enough to have any children himself, and when they come to visit it makes him feel like they are his grandchildren.
“Another resident spoke to me of her joy when the children celebrated her 90th birthday by singing “happy birthday” to her and presenting her with a beautiful cake.
“She said it is something that she will always cherish.”
Ms Bhathena has seen special relationships form between the children and residents, and the time spent together has opened up many conversations and curiosity from children as they notice things about their elderly friends.
“The residents have so much time and respect for the children and the relationships grow quite strongly.
“I believe it takes a village to raise a child, and when children don’t have a grandparent in their life they just miss out on these connections. We’re very pleased this relationship has been so positive for both our children and the residents.”