It's not often a TV program can inspire great outcomes for both students and aged care residents, but the ABC's Old People's Home for Teenagers has done just that.
Students from Heritage Christian School have been meeting weekly with residents from RSL LifeCare Le Hamel Village - completing tasks, learning about one another and teaching new skills.
On Monday, November 20, the group of about 12 met for the last time, concluding the six-week program with a Christmas party.
Heritage Christian School teacher Casey Baldwin hailed the out-of-the-box idea as a great success and said everyone has bought in.
"I remember one of the students saying to me 'Miss I don't know how to start conversations' and I said you don't know how to start conversations yet," she said.
"I said it will come and you watch her now and she's great."
After gaining inspiration from the TV program, Ms Baldwin first approached the school's principal and then reached out to Port Macquarie-Hastings Council.
"Sam Johnson from council, she suggested I go to Le Hamel Village and I spoke with Tulli and she has been phenomenal," she said.
"She has taken this and run with it and she has supported me the whole way. She's so excited, gets tears in her eyes because she's so excited to see how well her seniors are going."
Le Hamel Village manager Tulli-Rae Fowler said more than anything, the program has been insightful.
"The impact it has across both seniors and students together and how much more alike they are in the problems and issues that some people experience," she said.
"Age doesn't really effect that they still go through those same struggles regardless and its been beautiful to watch and witness them all grow together and create this bond."
Ms Fowler said it was a long process building interest in her residents who were often apprehensive about being placed out of their comfort zone.
"There was a lot of interest but there was equally a lot of hesitation," she said. "It is something new, unnerving and it's very vulnerable and for some of these residents putting yourself in a vulnerable situation does concern people."
On Monday, October 16, the students and aged care residents gathered for their first activity, a 'speed-meeting' exercise at Roto House.
The second meeting was a treasure hunt on the school grounds where seniors and students worked together to decipher clues. The seniors then hosted the students for a games day at the Village.
Both groups then exchanged knowledge, the seniors teaching baking skills and imparting words of wisdom while the students were able to show their technical know-how, demonstrating how to borrow an eBook and or slow down a YouTube clip.
Ms Fowler thanked all participants who she called trailblazers. Plans are already in place to expand the program in the near future, including incorporating RSL Lifecare's Pozières Village.
"The guys that did this program at the pilot are the trailblazers," Ms Fowler said. "There were a lot of people really interested but were just too hesitant because it was out of their comfort zone but now the feedback and just hearing the residents come back and say how impactful its been, for them it has really triggered that (interest)."
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