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March 2011

Older lady and young girl jpeg

Marjorie Sutcliffe, 95, enjoys the young playgroup visitors to Percy Baxter Lodge.

Fun the name of the game at Percy Baxter Lodge

Every Tuesday at Percy Baxter Lodge in North Geelong, little kids romp in the sandpit, ride tricycles and play with toys and other equipment.

The residents of the aged care facility join the kids’ games, teach them nursery rhymes and talk to their mums.

The weekly ‘playgroup’ is a Barwon Health/Playgroup Victoria project.

It is the result of a pilot, in partnership with the National Ageing Research Institute and funded by the Department of Health’s Aged Care branch under the Count us in! social inclusion for older people living at public sector aged care services initiative.

Known as an Intergenerational Playgroup, the project was designed to bring together people of all ages in a safe, caring and fun environment.

Playgroup Victoria runs sessions for babies, toddlers and preschoolers and their parents or caregivers.

Around 50,000 children from 40,000 families go to playgroup in all corners of Victoria at community venues such as maternal and child health centres, kindergartens, halls, community centres, primary schools and aged care facilities.  

Percy Baxter Lodge is a residential facility based at the McKellar Centre.

McKellar Centre lifestyle officer Janette Purcell said she had seen remarkable changes in residents and the children since the program started.

‘Residents who would normally prefer to be on their own are getting out and about, getting really involved in playgroup.

‘The program is play time for the residents, mums, dads, staff and kids.

‘Everyone gets involved and everyone has fun.

‘No matter what age you are, you can still laugh and play as well as the next person!

‘Playgroup has made Percy Baxter Lodge feel more homely and it’s certainly creating conversation all over the McKellar Centre.

‘By doing this, we’re connecting residents with the community and connecting the community with residents.

‘A lot of bonding takes place and children are learning about compassion and having a lot of fun on the way,’ said Ms Purcell.

Marjorie Sutcliffe, 95, has found playgroup to be something that is providing a new interest in past experiences.

It has given Mrs Sutcliffe, who has always loved children, an opportunity to reminisce about being a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

‘Even my great-grandchildren are grown up, they’re in their twenties!

‘So it’s lovely to spend time with the smaller children and to spend time with their parents as well.

‘Whether we’re reading stories or singing songs, we’re always having fun.

‘There are always plenty of things to do and it is nice to have a change and do things with young people,’ Mrs Sutcliffe said.

             For more information about playgroup at Percy Baxter Lodge contact Ms Purcell on 5279 2894.