13 May 2019
A project proposed by USC Gympie and Cooinda Aged Care Centre aims to give university students a novel opportunity to live in renovated accommodation at the centre while completing their degrees next door.
The potential benefits for both students and centre residents, ranging from professional to social to financial, will be monitored by USC and Cooinda staff and researched by USC Nursing Science academics.
The USC campus is next to the Cooinda grounds in Cartwright Road, Gympie.
Director of Northern Campuses Graham Young said USC was currently gauging student interest and availability for the trial, which could take place later this year.
Mr Young said up to six students could get a significantly discounted rent for a semester while volunteering some time to get to know residents.
The model was loosely based on Humanitas, which originated in the Netherlands to explore the mutual benefits of placing student accommodation within aged care facilities.
“This type of intergenerational living is intriguing and possibly an Australian first, and we’re initially offering it to international students and Nursing Science students,” he said.
“There’s no nursing duties involved – it’s more about socialising and spending quality time with residents – but students of relevant degrees could also have work placement options.”
The research will be conducted by a USC team led by Lecturer in Nursing Dr Apil Gurung, who specialises in aged care, gerontology and qualitative research.
Cooinda CEO Robyn Kross, who has a background in nursing, said she was impressed with the enthusiasm of the first few students to apply and excited about the potential outcomes.
“For our residents, it’s that socialisation aspect, the connection back to the community, the focus on what other people are doing in their lives, that will add another element to their lifestyle and maybe take their mind off aches and pains or age-related loneliness,” she said.
The non-profit residential aged care centre, set on 10 hectares of native flora and gardens, runs programs for respite and health and wellbeing and has a range of rooms and facilities.
Mr Young said international students could improve their communication skills and English language while immersed in regional Australian culture and interacting with older people who have lifetimes of wisdom and experience.
“Nursing Science is consistently the most popular degree at USC Gympie, and it would be great to attract more international students into allied health programs,” he said.