Playgroup at Christchurch retirement home benefits both pensioners and youngsters

Every week, some Christchurch pensioners look forward to a special visit.

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The intergenerational play is proven to have major health benefits for older people. Source: 1 NEWS

After the birth of her daughter Isabelle, local mum Lizz Read started up a playgroup for children.  

"When Isabelle was born, I was looking at an intergenerational play group 'cause I'd seen what they do and I thought it was a really cool idea," Read said.

Now every Monday, the playgroup visits the Special Care and Hospital Units at Charles Upham Retirement Village in town of Rangiora.

Ms Read says overseas studies on the type of interaction has found huge mental and physical health benefits for pensioners.

"There are preschools in retirement villages like in dementia wards - it helps both the kids and the residents. Not all these kids will have grandparents or great grandparents and its good interaction and gives them good social skills.

"The residents just love it, they just come out of their shells - both the residents and the kids - it's amazing."

But they're not the only ones. The mums have built special friendships too.

There's over 80 members on their Facebook page that've gone from strangers to a very special community.

One of them is Tracey Richmond, she only moved here a couple of years ago.

"We don't have the grandparents around so there's so many different facets that make it really, really special for us.

"We get to interact with the older generation but we also get to interact with other mums and other bubs so for us it's just really special.

"We're welcomed in and we always are every time we come here. It's such a beautiful warm place - the staff, the residents, the other mums, it’s just a really special time of the week we really look forward to it."

Resident Marilyn Williams proves the residents enjoy it just as much.

"It's lovely to see the little ones," she says. "It really is. It takes me back a long way it’s lovely to see them, I just enjoy watching them play and they’ve been so good."

A resident for three-and-a-half years, Alma Cresswell says the group should do it more often - something Lizz is already thinking about.

She plans to have a group in every unit and move to more villages across the city.

But in the meantime, the play group is after any donations of toys or books for the children to use. These can be dropped off at the village.

If anyone wants to join the group, they can register at the group's Facebook page.