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The Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds: take a peek behind the scenes

“Maureen, hurry up!” Michaela urges her friend. Aiden does much the same with his older buddy Eric, who has sat down to rest. "We are coming last," he tells Eric as he pleads for him to carry on.

This scene is playing out in the first episode of the new ABC TV program 'The Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds'.

The idea is simple – a group of ten 4-year olds are paired with aged care residents for seven weeks, working and playing together, to see if the physical and mental wellbeing of the residents improves.

The show highlighted the reality of aged care living for some residents and can be shocking, even for seasoned aged care observers.

“I’m not interested in having a purpose,” said Brian, one of the participants on the show. "I mean, everybody thinks that they should do everything they can to keep us alive. We’re here to die and the sooner the better."

Maureen and Michaela. Photo: ABC

But as the first episode progresses we can see the enjoyment residents get from their new young friends, their energy and laughter was infectious.

This experiment is the first of its kind conducted in Australia and Professor Susan Kurrle, director of the Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre at the University of Sydney, worked on the show and believes the implications of a successful trial could be huge.

The resident-to-resident relationship building that has arisen as a result of the experiment has obvious benefits to health, she said. Allowing young children day to day contact with their elders can also combat ageism.

Kurrle spoke with Nursing Review about her work on this funny and heart-warming show.

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