An Inter-generational Learning and Living Campus: A New Model for Healthy Senior Living and Integrated School Communities across Urban and Regional Australia

Project dates: 01/03/2020 - 01/03/2025

Why it matters

One of the greatest challenges for Australian society is the separation of generations which affects the quality of life for our seniors and engagement of our youth. Senior living facilities and education campuses are often designed in a way which maintains isolation and deepens the divide.

The federal and state governments call for new ideas to support participation and social interaction. The GrandSchools Project, is a federal funded project exploring integrated solutions for healthy intergenerational learning and living campuses across urban and regional Australia.

Project Overview

This project acts upon recommendations from the Inquiry into the Quality of Care and Residential Aged Care in Australia IQCRAC (2018) by developing an inter-generational model for senior living within school campuses in consultation with industry partners.

The project differs from existing programs by establishing a policy-driven ‘shared campus facilities and services’ approach which is person-centred, health focused and socially inclusive. The model intends to be translatable across diverse Australian contexts, from urban realms where land is limited, and regionally, where closer engagement between generations will maintain social networks.

The project further responds to urgent national workforce development needs and health training demand in senior living, and provides an integrated model for co-located school-based vocational pathways for youth in senior living settings.

The model aims to create intentional space for co-learning, co-care, co-fitness and co-creation benefiting health, well-being, and continued learning of residents and students.

The vision is to deepen relationships, connectivity, and understandings between generations. This includes improving inter-cultural understanding and decreasing social isolation for seniors, consistent with the ‘Change of Culture’ recommendation of IQCRAC.

The proposed model is to be developed between QUT, ACU, Deakin and Fulton Trotter Architects, senior living and education industry partners, Redeemer Lutheran College, Lutheran Services, Wesley Mission Queensland, Edmund Rice Education Australia and Learning Environments Australasia Queensland.

The model will be incrementally refined over three stages which seeks to contextualise the risks, impediments & benefits of co-situated senior living/educational settings. Initial stages will develop thematic understanding of societal, policy, operational, planning, and health & well-being factors. This knowledge will be applied to case study projects examining complex interrelationships and challenges across Australia. The research will be concluded by refining and evaluating the model with industry/community for use as a decision support tool for the sector.

GrandSchools Projects

Research projects across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria will gather multidisciplinary knowledge to support the development of GrandSchool’s intergenerational living and learning model.

Project 1 – Cooperative Spaces Project

The Cooperative Spaces Project aims to design, implement and evaluate intergenerational cooperative programs in creative arts (co-creation), horticulture/hospitality (co-care), IT/media (co-learning), or fitness (co-fitness), across multiple case study sites. The health and wellbeing benefits of varied levels of student and senior engagement in cooperative programs will be evaluated.

Project 2 – Youth Social Enterprise Employment Project

The Youth Social Enterprise Employment Project aims to explore the feasibility of school students completing school-based traineeships and other work-based training while meeting service needs of seniors within co-located highschool and senior living campuses. This project will evaluate the supervision structure put in place through establishment of social enterprises (e.g. onsite cafe, IT mentorships, horticultural maintenance), and identify potential barriers and enablers to social enterprise development within the model.

Project 3- Inclusive Campus Environments Project

The Inclusive Campus Environments Project aims to explore the feasibility of planning and built environment models which integrate, co-situate or connect existing education and senior living environments. Key sites will be identified to implement spatial syntax and activity mapping to understand and inform intergenerational learning and living campus design.

Project 4 – Decision Network Tool for Intergenerational Planning Project

The Decision Network Tool for Intergenerational Planning Project aims to explore the feasibility of developing a network tool which captures regulatory policy, governance models, economic factors, campus planning, and the campus design features required to implement healthy intergenerational programs and create opportunities for social enterprise. The project will develop, implement and evaluate a pilot network tool to help inform intergenerational learning and living campus design.

Further Details

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Policy Implications

Initial published research undertaken with professional and academic experts reveals that the GrandSchools project has merit but faces policy and planning obstacles. Read our policy brief.


Project Team

Chief Investigators

Professor Robin Drogemuller, QUT Science and Engineering Faculty (Lead)

Professor Evonne Miller, QUT, Creative Industries Faculty

Marissa Lindquist, QUT, Creative Industries Faculty

Dr Tanja Tyvimaa, QUT, The QUT Business School

Dr Andrea Blake, QUT, The Business School

Adjunct Professor Mark Trotter, QUT, Creative Industries

Professor Susanne Kuys, ACU, Faculty of Health Sciences

Associate Professor Gert-Jan Pepping, ACU, Faculty of Health Sciences

Dr Rosamund Harrington, ACU, Faculty of Health Sciences

Professor Paul Sanders, Deakin University, Faculty of Science, Engineering & Built Environment

Other Team Members

Dr Sara Omrani, QUT, Science and Engineering Faculty

Professor Sagadevan Mundree, QUT, Centre of Agriculture and Bioeconomies

External Partners

Dale Murray, Director Partnerships, Edmund Rice Education Australia

Chris Seiboth, Executive Lead Community Services, Lutheran Services

Tanya Crooks, Principal, Redeemer Lutheran College

Geoff Batkin, CEO, Wesley Mission Queensland 

John Ward, Director, Fulton Trotter Architects

Jane Briese, Minx Archticture

Katerina Dracopoulos, Past Co-Chari, Association of Learning Environments (Qld)

Funding / Grants 

The GrandSchools project is an Australian project federally funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Ideas Grant (2020-2025)