SECG blog

Bridging generations: The remarkable benefits of integrating kindergartens in residential aged care facilities


By Raphaëlle-Ashley Guerbaai 

As a (relatively) young mum of a dynamic three-year-old little boy and a (relatively) early career researcher focused on improving the quality of care in residential aged care facilities, I never thought that both my worlds would collide. Well, that happened very recently and completely unexpectedly. One evening, I was walking out of my son’s kindergarten parents-teacher evening, with our next year’s enrolment form under my arm and the following evening (a Friday nonetheless), I was struggling to process an email stating that our kindergarten would be shutting down in a matter of days. In a state of panic, I started looking at different options and I came across a “model of care” that I hadn’t considered before: kindergartens embedded into residential aged care facilities. So, I did what I am trained to do, I did some research, and this is what I found…

In a world that often seems fragmented and fast-paced, there's an emerging trend that is bringing generations together in a heart-warming and mutually beneficial way – the integration of kindergartens within residential aged care facilities. This innovative concept is redefining the traditional model of care for older adults and early childhood education, creating a unique environment where both groups can thrive together. In this blog post, we'll delve into the remarkable benefits of this intergenerational approach and explore how it's shaping the future of care and learning.

First and foremost, the studies that I came across underlined the enhanced learning opportunities. For children, spending time in a residential aged care facility can be a transformative educational experience. They absorb life lessons, cultural diversity, and valuable insights from the stories shared by the residents. Activities such as arts and crafts, reading, and singing bridge the generation gap and facilitate a rich learning environment. Additionally, these interactions can help children develop communication skills, empathy, and a greater understanding of the challenges faced by older adults.

Engaging with children can have remarkable cognitive benefits for older adults. The presence of energetic, inquisitive children encourages seniors to stay mentally active and sharp. They might share stories, play games, or participate in creative activities, all of which stimulate memory and cognitive function. This interaction can contribute to slowing cognitive decline and improving overall mental and physical well-being.

The integration of kindergartens and residential aged care creates an organic opportunity for intergenerational bonding. Children and older adults form unexpected and touching friendships, benefiting from the emotional support and companionship they provide each other. For residents who may feel isolated, interacting with exuberant children can imbue their lives with renewed purpose and joy. Likewise, children learn empathy, respect, and patience from their interactions with residents, building a foundation of understanding that will shape their attitudes as they grow.

What seemed to be particularly emphasised in the various studies I read, was the dynamic between the innocence of childhood and the wisdom of age that creates an environment filled with emotional support. Residents often reported a renewed sense of purpose as they became mentors and role models to the children. The love and attention they receive from the children can combat feelings of loneliness and depression. At the same time, children learn about ageing and the different stages of life, fostering a more inclusive and compassionate worldview.

The integration of kindergartens and residential aged care facilities extends beyond children and older adults. It creates a positive ripple effect throughout the community. Families of residents find comfort in knowing their loved ones are engaged in fulfilling activities, while parents of the children appreciate the values and life lessons their children are learning (especially when grandparents live on a different continent, which is the case for many families). Moreover, these innovative initiatives promote a sense of unity and togetherness, fostering a stronger community spirit.

 In the end, our kindergarten found a way of remaining afloat until a new investor could take over in the new year, so we decided to keep our little one in his familiar surroundings, which meant that in the end, I did not visit any kindergartens that provided an intergenerational approach. Based on the research conducted and the case studies that I explored, I concluded that the integration of kindergartens in residential aged care facilities exemplifies the extraordinary power of human connection and the potential for transformative change in how we approach care and learning. This intergenerational model, driven by compassion and a shared desire for companionship, builds bridges between generations and creates a more compassionate, understanding, and vibrant society that values the wisdom of the past and the promise of the future.


Additional resources on this topic include:

  2. Hämel K, Röhnsch G. Between Social Inclusion and Exclusion: Integration of Daycare Guests in the Nursing Home Setting. Gerontologist. 2021 Sep 13;61(7):1030-1040. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnaa157.
  3. Childcare centre in aged care home brings together young and old:
  4. The benefits of mixing aged care with child care:
  5. Krzeczkowska A, Spalding D, McGeown W, Gow A, Carlson M, Brown Nicholls, L A. A systematic review of the impacts of intergenerational engagement on older adults’ cognitive, social, and health outcomes, Ageing Research Reviews, 2021,


September 2023

Dr Raphaëlle-Ashley Guerbaai is a Postdoctoral Fellow and registered nurse with the Rehabilitation, Ageing and Independent Living (RAIL) Research Centre, Monash University. Her research focuses mainly on the development and implementation of new interventions targeting unplanned and avoidable hospital transfers from residential long-term care, deprescribing in community settings, implementation science and vulnerable populations.