A unique social enterprise café on Victoria’s surf coast has become a thriving community hub for aged care residents, trainees with disability and young customers. Source: VMCH.
Star Café opened in December 2022 at Star of the Sea Aged Care Residence in Torquay. Run by Catholic aged and disability services provider VMCH, the café aims to provide people with disability invaluable work experience, and some café culture and connections for older residents and families.
Café coordinator Cathy Rundle says six months on, the café is delivering on both of these, and much more.
“We’re so delighted the local community has embraced the café, which has become a meeting place for young families and visiting grandchildren and great-grandchildren of residents,” Ms Rundle said.
“We’ve set up a kids’ corner with colouring books, puzzles, games and toys, and child–friendly dining options have become big drawcards.”
Having witnessed beautiful connections between aged care residents, younger trainees, and visiting children, Ms Rundle and aged care staff recently organised a special school holiday activity focused on inclusion for all ages.
Residents, trainees and children enjoyed a fun afternoon of bingo, balloon exercise, some delicious party food and face painting.
“Everyone had an absolute ball,” Ms Rundle said. “Our trainees are already forming friendships with residents and their families, and the residents’ faces really light up when they’re around the little ones, it’s beautiful to witness.”
Star of the Sea Aged Care Lifestyle Coordinator Jen Cotsopolous agreed.
“It was joyful and loud. The children really lifted their spirits. Residents reminisced about their childhoods and bonded with the children. The emotional, physical, recreational and mental benefits of the intergenerational activities were plain to see.”