Demand for iGEN Program soars

Mercy Education

Demand for iGEN Program soars

The Intergenerational Program (iGEN), is a partnership between Mercy Health, Australian Catholic University and Catherine McAuley College in Bendigo, which pairs College students with local residents at both Mercy Health Bethlehem and Mercy Health’s senior living community, Golden Rise Bendigo.

More than 220 students have applied to take part in the 2024 program, a 26 per cent increase on last year’s numbers.

The Program aims to improve quality of life and educational services for both aged care and student participants and contributes to an improved understanding of how positive relationships can impact health and wellbeing.

Students involved in the program are responsible for investigating, planning and leading activities in conjunction with the residents. Some of the activities have included producing a book of life advice, presenting on overseas trips, assisting residents with iPhone and iPads, soap making, running trivia and bingo sessions, arranging excursions, musical performances, gardening and cooking.

Program testimonials from 2023 have revealed benefits for both students and residents. Year 10 Catherine McAuley College Bendigo student Caitlyn, said she has recently noticed that the skills she learnt in iGEN benefiting other parts of her life. “I have definitely changed as a person in my day-to-day life from the iGEN program. I first noticed this at work a few weeks ago when I was clearing an older couple’s plates and having a conversation with them. I knew exactly what to say and how to keep the conversation flowing. I later realised this was due to skills I learnt through iGEN!”

Mercy Bethlehem resident Sr Kathleen enjoyed the weekly visits from students. “Last year, I prepared something every week for my students such as an art experience. A lot of work went into it, but I got a lot of joy seeing them enjoy the sessions…Preparing these experiences is good for my brain as I love education – I’m a born educator.”

iGEN Program Coordinator Ellen Francis, said the growing demand for a place in the program is largely thanks to the unique and innovative design of the program.

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