November 16, 2023

International Friendship Day – find out how visiting an aged care facility had such a positive impact on our lives

How to teach your child compassion

This post is sponsored by My Little Pony. We were given approval to share these images and video footage of the residents by their families through Seasons Aged Care.  We refer to them all as residents for their privacy. 

We share so many play recipes on our website and we love receiving positive feedback from our fellow Fun Mums! We’ve surprisingly found ourselves receiving more and more wonderful feedback from aged care workers who make our sensory play recipes & crafts with their residents who enjoy those recipes just as much, if not MORE than the children do.

When My Little Pony approached us to help promote International Friendship Day within our community we immediately knew what we wanted to do! We thought about each of the My Little Pony traits and knew Pinkie Pie represents Paging Fun Mums to a key! She is all about FUN but also holds a soft spot for those in need of cheer! You can learn all about each My Little Pony and their friendship traits here.

Whilst we’ve visited quite a few local playgroups (to demonstrate easy play recipes & crafts) we always knew it would be great to reach out to the other ‘age’ spectrum and do something special with our elderly citizens. So we called a local aged care facility (Seasons Aged Care) and made arrangements to come in with our children to share some FUN and hopefully create some special memories and friendships.

Little did we know just how much of an impact this visit would have on our lives, our children’s lives and those who work and live at this wonderful aged care facility.

We knew something magical was happening the moment we entered their dining hall. We were greeted with the BIGGEST smiles and we watched with wonder as the children gravitated towards each of the residents who then lavished them with attention – “Look at your beautiful dress”, “What a handsome young man you are”, “My great granddaughter is about your age”. We moved around the large dining hall with over 115 residents (average age being 90 and ranging in age from 78 – 105!) and learnt that many of the residents have lived within our community for many years – they even spoke of the excitement when one of the ‘old’ (recently refurbished) shopping centres was first built back in 1979! Many of the residents thanked us for sharing our children with them and one lovely lady remarked about a baby that recently came through in a stroller, she told us her arms were aching for a cuddle.

We were advised by their Diversional Therapist that one particular resident with dementia wasn’t in a good mood and was sitting by herself in the corner as she no longer wished to interact with the other residents. She advised us that it might be best to not approach her, having just said that we both turned around to witness Miss 7 approaching that very same lady! Miss 7 walked directly up to her and opened her arms for a hug, they embraced and we witnessed a huge smile spread across both of their faces. This resident then joined us for our whole stay, news quickly spread amongst the carers and they all came to witness the huge transformation that had taken place. We were told that this particular resident had unfortunately deteriorated over the past two weeks but our visit made a massive difference to her demeanour and that she remained very calm for the rest of the afternoon. This was a very emotional moment for us especially as we watched her play with our children as if there was no age barrier. The carers thought her mind was most likely in the past and perhaps she sees herself as a similar age.

There is much research into the benefits of children spending quality time with their grandparents and great grandparents but quite often this just isn’t an option and many children grow up without any older influence in their lives. Many local retirement villages and aged care homes welcome people with open arms and invite local residents to take part in fun events with community spirit in mind. We learnt that schools used to visit quite regularly however due to the recent curriculum changes this no longer happens. Most Aged Care Facilities would embrace and appreciate more visitors and volunteers as quite often it becomes too distressing for some family members to visit and therefore some residents have no contact with their family. Perhaps the fact that we were visiting strangers made it easier for us? The fact that we didn’t know the residents in their younger years meant it wasn’t quite as hard or distressing.

We brought along a few of our My Little Ponies,  paints and some puzzles. The ladies really enjoyed all of the activities and were fascinated by the details on each of the My Little Ponies and our children enjoyed telling them all about the world of My Little Pony – where friendship is magic. Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash and their pony Pals are all about, fun, friendship and adventures. We were informed that many people suffering dementia enjoy playing with children’s toys and very basic puzzles, sensory play is also an important and stimulating activity for them. It’s almost like they’ve come full circle and share the same interests as children do.

Here’s a short video of our amazing experience. We hope this will inspire you to do the same.

We were so moved by our experience that we’ve arranged to continue visiting once a month with a new craft or sensory activity to do with the children and their residents…our new friends. We will keep you all updated on our adventures in future blogs.

Our friends at My Little Pony have kindly donated a My Little Pony Care Package to the Seasons Aged Care facility for them to enjoy.

We would love to encourage our Fun Mum community to arrange a visit at an aged care facility with their children. If you choose to do so you might find the following tips useful:

  • Call ahead of time and speak with their Diversional Therapist (each centre should have one) they’ll know each of the residents and be able to ‘match’ you with some residents who would most benefit from the experience. You may wish to plan a visit without your children first to ensure you feel comfortable with the environment.
  • Discuss your upcoming visit with your children. If they haven’t had much experience with the elderly, you may need to talk about the types of things they’ll see (like wheelchairs & walkers) and how some residents may not be able to talk or communicate easily.
  • Explain to your children that they don’t have to take part in any activities if they feel uncomfortable. We told our children to alert us if they needed a break from any of the activities. It took our Master 6 a little while to settle into the environment and that’s okay. We also never asked our children to hug the residents, they did this on their own terms and asked each resident if they would like a hug.
  • Bring some activities that your children enjoy doing. Our children enjoyed making paintings for each of their new friends and these are now proudly displayed in each of the resident’s rooms.
  • Lastly, never visit if you or your children are unwell.

Many conversations arose after our visit and this opened communication about friendship & compassion. We talked extensively about how happy we all felt by making someone’s day a little brighter and how volunteering our time had a positive impact on our community.

Would you like to participate in International Friendship Day (July 30th) and make your mark on the world through friendship and service? What ways do you involve your children in your community?

If you live on the Sunshine Coast you are more than welcome to join us at our future ‘playdates’! Simply send us a message on our facebook page.

Here’s a great craft that you could do at your local aged care facility!

MLP Carry Case - DIY

This easy & portable DIY Small World Carry Case with a few simple items from the craft store!

All you need is an inexpensive cardboard carry case, felt, large pipe cleaners, cotton balls, glue & some decorative straw…and of course a few cute My Little Pony characters.

Glue in your sky & grass to create your back ground & simply cut a few clouds & a sun…the kids can place & re-place them wherever they like. We got creative and make our pipe cleaners into a rainbow! This is a simple craft that you could make with your local Aged Care Facility!

MLP DIY Small World Carry Case

Jenni & Louise xx

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This post is coordinated by The Remarkables Group

4 thoughts on “International Friendship Day – find out how visiting an aged care facility had such a positive impact on our lives

  1. I absolutely love this post and I totally agree with kids spending time with their grandparents and great grandparents. My grand aunt, who is 91!, has been in and out of the hospital for the last couple of years. The last time she fell, the doctors told us that it wasn’t looking good. All the grand kids went to visit her. I brought my son, who was full of energy and laughter. I’m sure he brightened up her day. And now, although she’s still in the hospital, she is improving a little more every day. We just visited her last night and she looks great — she’s walking (assisted) more, she’s alert, she’s laughing and joking. We are all so glad that she is doing better. I honestly believe that my son, and all the other grandkids and great grandkids who went to visit her, added more time on her clock. It’s amazing how a small little burst of sunshine can give us strength to think positively and change the course of our day. Thanks for sharing! I’m not from Australia, but I will certainly try to do my part on July 30th and spread some light…

  2. Ladies this is one of the most beautiful posts I’ve ever read – I applaud you for creating such a wondrous experience for your kids and the residents. One very touched heart here.

    1. Hi Lorraine, We were just so pleased that we were able to make this wonderful opportunity happen! We look forward to helping Seasons Aged Care to plan and implement some simple crafts and activities for us to do there once a month with our children and their residents. It’s a beautiful partnership with so many benefits for all involved.
      Jen & Lou xx

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