The journey of The Herd Intergenerational Learning Centre (‘The Herd’) began over 4 years ago when sisters Anna and Fiona watched a moving documentary on a world-recognised intergenerational care centre in Seattle. At this beautiful centre, an aged care home shares the same roof as a child care centre. It made Anna and Fiona laugh and cry as they watched the loving and life-giving interactions between the little ones and older residents. They were so moved that the very next day, they began a journey to set up a shared roof model in Australia.
The sisters began by registering a company name inspired by elephants and the care, respect and devotion they have proven to show towards their elders. And so The Herd was born.
Anna and Fiona wrote to a large number of CEOs of aged care homes across Australia to seek expressions of interest in partnering with them, as child care providers, to offer an intergenerational model of care. They sought the interest of companies who could meet the size requirements of a 66-place child care centre. They received numerous expressions of interest and met with a number of CEOs across Australia. After meeting with interested aged care providers, Anna and Fiona engaged in supply and demand analyses for each aged care home provider to ensure there was a demand for child care in the area.
In April, 2019, their search for the perfect partner in an optimal location ended when they happened across a wonderful aged care home in the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. In order to establish an intergenerational learning centre within the aged care home, capital works are required to repurpose and add on to existing infrastructure. Construction is underway, and The Herd Intergenerational Learning Centre is set to be open in September 2022.
This ‘shared roof’ model of intergenerational care will be the first of its kind in Australia. It will afford residents the freedom and choice to visit a special space within the centre where they can sit and experience the joy of seeing and hearing the children in play. Essentially, they will be able to sit in a loungeroom-type environment and watch the children play in a way that might be reminiscent of the precious years when they had their own young children. Across the working week, children from each ‘class’ or ‘room’ of the child care centre will have daily visits planned with a group of residents. Activities will include art, gardening, music, fun exercise and recreational games.
The largest challenge the sisters have faced in their journey has been sourcing funding support to enable the construction of infrastructure to house the intergenerational learning centre. Anna and Fiona have spent many hundreds of hours writing grants and approaching philanthropists. This project has been made possible with a $500k grant from the Department of Education, Victoria as well as generous contributions from a number of philanthropists.
Fiona and Anna were invited to present their project to Senator Colbeck’s Office at Parliament House, Canberra. They have also travelled to the award-winning shared-roof intergenerational learning centre in Seattle. The Herd is committed to making the centre a model for others in order to build a bigger force for a greater good. By acting as a model and giving tours and support for other individuals and organisations interested in providing an intergenerational model of care, they endeavour to ensure that the impact of their project extends beyond the residents and children involved in their program. The Intergenerational Care Project Team at Griffith University has provided a highly knowledgeable support network. The Herd look forward to continuing their association, with the aim of making this model of care commonplace in Australia.
A big motivating factor for Anna and Fiona is their beautiful Grandma who spent the last year of her life in residential aged care. A project like this would have brought some sparkle to her final chapter.
To find out more and keep up to date with their progress, visit The Herd Intergnenerational Learning Centre website: https://www.theherdilc.com.au/
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