Intergenerational Programs with the Professor in the Hawaiian shirt



Hi Friends,

It is your old pal, the Professor in the Hawaiian shirt to tell you all about Hale & Fun new initiative that aims to bridge the generation gap while having a lot of fun learning!

Click below for more information on our programs and how we can help you save time and money


Intergenerational activities bring together seniors and young people with the purpose of forming unique connections in educational and social experiences. Both groups benefit from such activities. Seniors experience increased physical and mental activity, as well as enjoyment. Also, it is important for young people to understand the concerns, as well as the values and ideas, of seniors. Such knowledge will help young people be successful caregivers of senior family members. In addition, as they age, the understandings gained from participation in senior activities can make their own aging easier.


Benefits of Intergenerational Programs and Activities

Intergenerational programs are an excellent resource for promoting good nutrition, physical activity and mental activity, and wellness. A growing number of people in social work, education, and wellness are beginning to believe that such programs may hold a great deal of importance, as well as promise for the future of those involved. They can serve as alternatives to expensive healthcare services, offering ways to help children and seniors learn, grow, eat well, and stay physically and mentally active.

Meeting Common Needs

The potential for utilizing intergenerational programs lies in the important physical and emotional needs children and seniors share.

  1. Both young children and older adults want to be understood.
  2. Both groups are also going through significant developmental changes, and acceptance is an important part of being comfortable with those changes.
  3. The need for companionship is high in both groups.
  4. Seniors want to feel useful and coaching and mentoring young people meets that need. Young people benefit emotionally from such mentoring and coaching.
  5. Both groups share a need for autonomy. Young children want to break away from adults constantly telling them what to do. Older adults appreciate a relationship with a young child who simply wants to be with them.

Increasing Physical Activity

In the day of video games, television, and texting, young people often lack opportunities for physical activity, as do seniors in retirement homes. They can enjoy many moderate activities together. Physical activity, such as gardening and walking, increases the mobility of seniors. In addition, these activities can help both children, whom studies have indicated are at an increased risk of obesity, and seniors meet aerobic guidelines and burn calories.


Supporting Mental Health

Sharing and caring provides a safe environment in which seniors and children can experiment, play, and make decisions that increase confidence levels. Educational researchers have pointed out that a number of seniors and children’s psychosocial needs are complementary. Some of these needs can be met when seniors and children come together to learn and share a variety of experiences. In fact, positive intergenerational contact may be an especially important for supporting mental health, including emotional, social, and spiritual growth.


It’s clear that taking the time to build intergenerational relationships among young children and older adults is important. Not only are the physical, mental, and emotional needs of both groups but, but they also have enjoyment, important for a long, happy life for a senior and an excellent developmental tool for young people.

Hale & Fun is 100% behind intergenerational programs and that is why we are piloting a whole range of new concepts including our new “A Bug’s life” & “Intergenerational debating”.


Come to our “Bug’s Life” and say Hi to our good friend “Doug” the burrowing Cockroach, he and all of his friends are part of our live displays coming to a school or retirement community near you soon!


We have a huge range of these programs rolling out across Sydney, so if you would like to know more about any of our programs please feel free to contact me on


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The importance of external value for motivating Seniors

In response to the huge amount of interest in the upcoming Congress on Dementia where Hale & Fun will be hosting a round table (Click here for more info), we thought we would expand on some of the key issues that Hale & Fun addresses and why its innovative and new approach to Aged care has become a key discussion topic for the upcoming conference.

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The Importance of External Value for Motivating Seniors

One of the most prominent questions facing staff and management in the aged care industry is “how can we better utilize our resources to maximise the benefits provided by the leisure activities and social calendar of our community?”

Too often valuable time and money are put into developing cognitively challenging programs only to find that residents simply don’t attend.

If you’ve ever found yourself seeking to improve the quality of the activities and programs provided within your community but find that, in spite of your best efforts, you are unable to retain the interest or motivation of residents, then you belong to a considerable majority of managerial staff looking for a better way to invest resources in the future of their residents, staff and business.

This paper explores how the incorporation of programs and activities that provide seniors with a strong sense of external value can greatly improve mental and physical health, while also helping to reduce the workload of your staff.

Members of retirement villages and the broader aged community are constantly voicing their desire for a greater variation and frequency of leisure activities and social functions, presenting management with the difficult prospect of sifting through the market to identify which services can best meet the physical, mental and social needs of seniors.

The market has been inundated with new products and services that claim all sorts of benefits, however very few recognize the humanistic side of their target market.  The result is that these apps, brain exercises and guest speakers fail to address issues of motivation, personal interest and sense of belonging that are so crucial to ensuring the long-term benefits are met; how many times have you yourself tried the latest craze in brain training, only to completely forget you ever even downloaded the program to begin with?

The key issue is that these sorts of programs and services, while born of the best intentions, fail to connect the ‘user’ with the broader community and with which they are so desperate to reconnect. By failing to tap in on the strong motivation already present these fads fall by the wayside all too easily and, in the absence of long-term use, never even come close to realizing the supposed potential benefits the claim, resulting in little more than disgruntled seniors, worn out staff and fruitless financial investments.


So, what are seniors missing out on?


 Issues with Current Initiatives

Emerging research in the field of neuroscience has revealed that the brain does possess the ability to rearrange and renew itself[1], thus increasing the potential for seniors to take proactive steps to ensure the longevity of their mental health. With a correctly applied approach and sustained engagement, seniors are able to exercise some control over the rate and extent of their cognitive remediation, affording a greater level of independence and, consequently, a higher quality of life.

However significant results are dependent upon the individual’s willingness to engage with the programs provided, which in turn requires the approach being employed to carry with it the power to invoke high levels of intrinsic and/or extrinsic motivation. In order to achieve the levels of motivation required the approach needs to directly and deliberately address the core values of the individual, and unless a high degree of value and meaning is attached to the completion of the task then the amount of time and energy likely to be invested is minimal.

The vast majority of current initiatives fail to resonate with the values seniors identify with, and as their initial curiosity dries up all hope for cognitive and physical improvement dissipates.

Furthermore, as the number of seemingly meaningless number of tasks, crosswords and guest speakers increases seniors are being inadvertently taught that they are no longer capable of doing anything of real value- that they are no longer able to complete any task of genuine importance.

        Well, what do seniors ‘genuinely’ value?

Raised in a period of time characterised by war, depression and economic hardship, Australia’s seniors were taught to assess the value of actions, beliefs and occupations by the extent to which they contributed to ‘the greater good.’ Having since retired from their professions and no longer bearing the responsibility of raising children, the vast majority of seniors now find themselves unsure of what or how they can contribute to the broader community.

Just as they are beginning to seriously question their own value their doubts are exacerbated as their daily routine begins to fill with activities that, while enjoyable, don’t address their strong desire to give something back to the community. In fact, in 2013 over 70% of elderly participant declared that ‘being a burden’[2] was one of their biggest and most distressing concerns, reiterating the importance to them of being able to feel needed by society.


Hale & Fun: A Brief Overview

Hale & Fun seek to realize the full potential of cognitive and social engagement by providing a unique service that directly enables seniors to reengage with society in a positive, productive and meaningful way that also enhances cognitive functioning and promotes genuine social inclusion.

Working with accomplished artists, entertainers and educators, Hale & Fun have tailored a vast range of courses and educational programs designed specifically to address the emotional, physical and mental needs of the aged community. Courses can also be created to reflect the specific interests or makeup of a specific community, as each program is designed to create an inviting and engaging environment that reconnects seniors with the outside world.

The programs are facilitated by vibrant and enthusiastic educators who are dedicated to ensuring that each participant is left with a genuine sense of belonging, achievement and involvement in the construction of a better society.

Hale & Fun’s commitment to delivering the best service possible has resulted in significant growth over the past three years, resulting in the development of partnerships with a number of educational institutions and organizations. In 2013 members of Hale & Fun participated in a vast range of exciting and innovative projects across the greater Sydney region, and they look to continue to build on this success in 2014 through the continued strengthening of inter-village connections, collaborations and competitions.

Hale & Fun distinguish themselves from similar programs by working beyond the traditional ‘senior education’ paradigm to reverse roles and have participants adopt the role of mentor. As they are called on to work collaboratively with the facilitator to provide them with feedback and suggestions about how they could improve as an educator participants are afforded the opportunity to make a genuine and meaningful contribution to the development of an aspiring teacher, and in doing so are playing a significant role in improving the standard of education and learning throughout the community. This feature of the course has proved immensely popular with all participants, typifying Hale & Fun’s pronounced ability to synthesize research with a humanistic approach that maximises benefits on all fronts, for all stakeholders.


“Cognitive decline is the main threat for the abilities of elder people to continue enjoying their favourite activities and a major additional threat to their quality of life”[3]


What are the benefits provided by Hale & Fun’s programs?


Improved Cognitive Function  

Cognitive remediation has long been misidentified and misunderstood as an irreversible and untreatable side effect of the natural ageing process. Consequently, one of the most common approaches to dealing with issues of declining mental capacities is to adopt a responsive position, waiting for problems to arise and then dealing with the situation as it unfolds. This has a predictably detrimental and profound impact on the health of the individual, while also placing unnecessary strain on the resources of the facility responsible for their care.

What research is now telling us is that engagement with cognitively challenging tasks can, over a period of time, not only decrease the rate of mental remediation but also reduce the impact of debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s[4]– a leading cause of dementia.

The courses and programs provided by Hale & Fun are purposefully designed to stimulate and exercise various regions the brain, using fun and innovative pedagogies to ensure that all participants are challenged end engaged at a level suitable to their ability to ensure that their minds are kept active and alert throughout their golden years.

Increased Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy refers to the belief and individual holds about their ability to carry out a given task successfully, and has been shown to have a strong correlation with one’s assessment of their own quality of life[5]. As seniors progress through various stages of retirement their responsibilities tend to be gradually reduced, and while such practices are invariably well-meaning (and in many cases inevitable) they also subconsciously send the unintended message that ‘you can’t do this anymore, please stop trying and let us do it for you.’ This in turn leads to a dramatic decrease in self-efficacy as seniors are left feeling as though those around them no longer believe that they are capable of even the simplest tasks, which eventually leads to the seniors themselves adopting this belief.

Helping seniors to overcome their learned helplessness can be a complex process, one that requires ongoing support in conjunction with carefully considered tasks that allow the individual to experience a sense of achievement that they can attribute to their own actions.

At Hale & Fun we set out to ensure that all challenges, materials and programs are designed and implemented in a way that allows all participants to enhance their self-efficacy by demonstrating to themselves and others that they are still capable of giving back to society while also learning new and practical skills.

Intergenerational Collaboration

The implementation of intergenerational projects has yielded extremely promising results in recent years, with initiatives fostering relationships between seniors and young people to afford both parties a genuine sense of social inclusion end mutual benefit. Ongoing trials of an intergenerational language exchange program at Monash University[6] exemplify the principles on which Hale & Fun’s own programs have been constructed, drawing significant positive attention from around the nation on account of the unprecedented success being experienced.

The sense of social inclusion afforded by this direct connection between seniors and emerging members of society incorporates them into a broader social network of communication and mutual obligation, resulting in participants feeling more “cared for, loved, esteemed and valued” as well as having a “powerful protective effect on health” [7], as well as the development of healthier behaviour patterns.

Benefits for care staff

       Few (if any) would deny that working in aged care can be extremely demanding, both mentally and physically. The need to be constantly aware of countless schedules, diets, prescriptions and policies is taxing enough on care staff without adding in the unnecessary burden of having to perpetually coax seniors in to participating in the activities and programs that management have invested their time and money into. Recent cuts in funding have further contributed to the ever increasing workload of staff, leading to almost a third of care staff in the retirement industry to describe themselves as “emotionally exhausted”[8].

Once you have selected the activities and programs that best cater to your specific circumstances Hale & Fun handle the rest, allowing staff to enjoy some respite from their demanding daily routine with the peace of mind provided by knowing that their residents are being placed in the hands of educated and caring professionals.

Click below for more information on our programs and how we can help you save time and money



Take-away Points  

While conceived with the best intentions in mind, the vast majority of new and emerging services that claim to offer significant benefits fail to recognize the true needs and values of seniors, resulting in low rates of participation and engagement. This in turn places unnecessary stress on staff.


Activities and programs that don’t appear to have any practical value often undermine seniors’ self-efficacy and self-worth. Conversely, activities and programs that allow seniors to feel that they are giving back to society have been documented to have a profoundly positive influence on these two aspects, while also reinvolving them with society and greatly increasing quality of life.


Mentally stimulating activities and challenges reduce the rate of mental remediation and have also been shown to combat the onset of debilitating diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.  However, these benefits are only realized through sustained and wilful engagement.


Hale & Fun’s unique model synthesizes leading research and developments with a profound understanding of the needs and values of seniors to provide a comprehensive program that enriches the quality of life for all members of the retirement community; not just seniors.




Next StepsIf your organization or community could benefit from more productive, engaging and beneficial leisure and social activities than contact Hale & Fun at, or phone (02) 8034 6945 to discuss which services and programs could best benefit the lives of those around you.



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[3] Stern, Paul C. and Carstensen, Laura L. Editors; Committee on Future Directions for Cognitive Research on Ageing, Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences, National Research Council “The Ageing Mind: Opportunities in Cognitive Research ISBN: 978-0-309-06940-3, 288 pages, 2000

[5] Kvarme, L, K Haraldstad, S Helseth, R Sørum, and G Netvig. “Associations between general self-efficacy and health-related quality of life among 12-13-year-old school children: a cross-sectional survey.” Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 7 (2009): 85.

[7] Wilkinson R & Marmot M 2003, Social Determinants of Health: The Solid Facts. 2nd edition World Health Organisation, Geneva.

Hale & Fun to Chair “Key Highlight” at 5th Annual Dementia Congress

The 5th Annual Dementia Congress is set to feature an innovative new platform for the discussion of the importance of a cognitively active lifestyle in the fight against Dementia.

The congress runs from February 20th-21st and draws together Australia’s leading aged care organizations and research units, with the object of collaborating and communicating around this year’s theme “Making Dementia Care Transformation Happen Today.”  This year’s congress is marked by the introduction of the highly anticipated ‘Interactive Roundtable’, and will be led by Dr. Daniel White of Hale & Fun, one of the nation’s foremost providers of education and entertainment for the senior community.

The interactive roundtable to be led by Hale & Fun led has been identified as one of the “key highlights” of the conference, with the Sydney based organization set to share how they are achieving unprecedented success with mental and physical outcomes in senior communities

Dr. White will be joined by some of the leading minds and voices in Dementia research, including the Hon. Shayne Neumann MP (Shadow Minister for Ageing), Nicole Batsch (Co-Author of the World Alzheimer Report 2012), Prof. Henry Brodaty (Director of Dementia Collaborative Research Centre) and Peter Schofield (Executive Director & CEO of Neuroscience Research Australia) to discuss the future of Dementia care and prevention on a local, national and global scale.

Dr. White has identified two key issues impinging on the success of programs aimed at enhancing seniors’ cognitive health, these being a lack of participant ownership over course content and an absence of perceived of ‘real world value.’

“Sadly, most of our community centers and retirement villages suffer from a lack of programs that recognize and actively address the need for cognitive engagement and productive value”, explains Dr. White.

“The unfortunate and unnecessary consequence is an increase in the risk of Dementia, as well as the development of other mental issues such as depression and extremely low levels of self-efficacy.”

Hale & Fun’s unique approach to battling dementia through learning has drawn significant attention throughout educational and aged care communities, with initiatives such as the highly successful ‘Intergenerational Debating Program’ helping to establish stronger connections between seniors and the outside world that so many feel disconnected from.

Speaking on the importance of reconnecting seniors with the community in a mutually productive capacity, Dr. White outlined the difficult circumstances that render many activities and programs designed to improve cognitive functioning ineffective.

“It’s inevitable that as individual ages their need for external support is going to increase. However, what’s happening inadvertently is that the gradual reduction of routine activities and responsibilities (such as cooking and cleaning) is leaving many seniors feeling as though they are no longer of any value to those around them, that they have become a burden on their carers.”

“At Hale & Fun we’ve invested our time and resources into developing a program that allows seniors to give back to those around them, to experience a genuine sense of contribution to society while also engaging them with a range of cognitively challenging exercises designed to keep the brain fit, healthy and functional.”

This “genuine sense of contribution” comes in the form of having seniors work as mentors for the teachers who facilitate the programs run by Hale & Fun, directly and meaningfully engaging them with the next generation of educators set to shape society.

With their ongoing development of services and programs targeted specifically at the improvement of the cognitive and emotional welfare of seniors, Hale & Fun are set to play a key role at the 2014 Annual Dementia Congress, continuing their charge to make Dementia care transformation happen, today.


Dr. White is the CEO and Executive Director at Hale & Fun, and will be leading the Interactive Roundtable Discussion at the National Dementia Congress in Melbourne on February 21st.

 Reservations for the 5th Annual Dementia Congress can be made through 

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The Art of Debating: Advantages to setting up a debating program in your retirement community

“It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it.”

Joseph Joubert (French Essayist and moralist, 1754-1824)


Recently, a group of seniors participated in the Hale & Fun debating program “The art of debating”.

The accumulation of all of their hard work was a debate between residents of one of our clients and the University of Sydney Debating Union.

Overall, it was great fun and everyone was very eager for the next round.


 This program was such a success that we would love to see it expanded to all of our clients – not just because it is a great opportunity to bring both the young and the old together but also because debating is has a huge number of advantages for seniors. In this article we will discuss a few of them.

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Advantages of Debate for Senior Citizens


Debating is a time-honored tradition in many democratic cultures.  From the ancient Greeks to today’s presidential debates, debating exists as a way to express one’s opinions coherently, logically, and with great gusto.  This particular form of speech continues to capture popular interest not only because it’s informative, but also because it’s entertaining.

Debating is so much more than simply stating one’s position.  A good debater learns to use a variety of rhetorical techniques as well as body language, tone, and non-verbal cues such as pauses to deliver an appealing argument.  For senior citizens, debates can provide an entertaining outlet to positively share one’s views while increasing memory retention.

If you’re looking to engage individuals, create a participatory audience, and assist residents in remaining current in societal issues, then organizing debates may just be what you’re looking for.  Here are the top eight reasons debating can assist senior citizens both intellectually and socially.

1.      Increases Memory

Perhaps the most important advantage of debating is that it utilizes memory.  Participants may of course use cue cards, but they often familiarize themselves with the material, memorizing key facts and arguments to present in the moment.  Regularly debating encourages participants to sharpen their memory skills, recalling a wide range of key information at the drop of a hat.

2.     Sharpens Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills

Debaters must research their position, logically organize their argument, and think quickly when reacting to their opponent’s arguments.  Debaters must consider an argument from both sides in order to counter their opponent’s potential arguments.  This process sharpens participants’ ability to predict as well as critically assess and respond to information their opposition may present during the debate.

3.     Encourages Listening Skills

Debaters must actively listen to their opponents’ argument in order to address and counter it.  This process actively engages the brain, encouraging the individual to quickly process information and develop a logical and substantiated defense of their selected position.  And not only must the debaters listen closely, but the audience must do the same in order to determine which debater offered the most compelling and supported argument.  Perhaps to make debates more accessible, audience members could vote at the debate’s conclusion in addition to the judges; each debate could have a judge’s choice and an audience favorite.

4.     Encourages Socialization and Participation

Organized debates are more than just debaters speaking; they offer a wide variety of avenues for participation and socialization.    Depending upon how the debate is organized, there may be judges as well as timekeepers and moderators.  From physically setting up the room, to moderating, to timekeeping, to judging, to tallying scores (or audience votes), many senior citizens could find a role they that would enjoy.  Unlike other activities that may appeal to only a few individuals, debating often appeals to many.  Residents can also vote on topics to debate on a regular basis to ensure that the debate topics appeal to a wide range of interests.

5.      Fosters Friendship

Debating is a wonderful way to meet new people.  Whether senior citizens participate actively as debaters or passively as attendees, they have an avenue to meet new people, engage in lively discussions, and make new friends.  Attending debates may help audience members identify those with common beliefs, which can make striking up conversations easier.

6.      Maintains Involvement in Current Events

Many times senior citizens feel disconnected with the world around them.  However debating offers an opportunity for this population to maintain engagement with current events and really understand relevant local, national, and global issues.  However, not all debates need to be politically focused!  Fun generational-appropriate topics such John Wayne vs Clark Gable or grandkids vs. granddogs.

7.     Builds Confidence

Public speaking is a wonderful way for individuals, regardless of age, to develop confidence.  Sometimes senior citizens may feel overlooked or ignored by society, and debating may allow them to speak up instead of remaining silent when they feel as though they’ve been marginalized or mistreated.  Confident individuals lead happier, more fulfilling lives, and debating can help individuals develop this confidence.

8.     Provides Entertainment

Whether seniors participate in the actual debate or attend as audience members, debates can be extremely fun events.  Topics can range from politics to Hollywood, from religion to nature.  As debaters become more comfortable with presenting their arguments, they may begin engaging theatrics to entertain the audience though voice changes and body language.

Organizing debates for senior populations is a win-win decision.  Not only will debates provide entertainment and varied opportunities for participation, but they also encourage mental acuity.  The process of preparing for debates from conducting research, to recalling key facts, to presenting an argument all help to engage the brain and keep it active.

If you would like to organize a debating program in your community, please contact Hale & Fun on or 02 8034 6945/0425282317.

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Dementia Awareness Week: Time for the Hale & Fun Cognitive Challenge

Pushing Back the Frontiers of Dementia

            The Road Less Travelled to Mental Health in Old Age

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Dementia Awareness Week 2013 (16th-22nd of September) is Australia’s response to World Alzheimer’s Day on September 21st. This is a timely reminder that retirement villages and care facilities should vary the cognitive stimuli they provide their members. Dementia is an unfolding heartbreak we are only beginning to understand. Our task as carers is to grasp the loose ends, and try to pull them together as best we can. Dementia Awareness Week 2013 ( is an opportunity to reflect on this, as we discover creative ways to push back the frontiers of dementia together.

The Golden Rectangle

Senior wellness comprises the following pivot points (within the limitations of individual member’s capabilities):

  • A healthy, balanced diet
  •  Regular, moderate exercise
  •  Fresh stimulating ideas
  •  A socially active calendar

Ideally, cognitively challenging activities for seniors should address all these pressure points as they unfold. In addition, there is a need to rotate these activities, so that we stimulate older minds in many different ways. We recommend retirement villages and care facilities build their programs around these concepts. Here are four examples from some of our clients that build around social interaction, cognitive stimulation and group discussion.

Theme 1 – A Healthy Balanced Diet

The best way to drive motivation levels down is to spoon-feed people. We all know that, but how often do we ask our senior citizens what they would like to eat?

  • Invite comments from the floor. Make it controversial and involve everybody.
  • Create working parties. Ask them to make suggestions for future menus.
  • Review their ideas the following day with all present, and vote on them.
  • Award token prizes to the winners, but reward all with a delicious lunch.

This sample idea converts a routine topic into something that entices fresh thought.


Theme 2 – Regular, Moderate Exercise

Instead of asking members to attend a daily aerobics session, try creating a diversion that makes exercise a spontaneous event. Here is a great idea to try:

  • Announce a walk about the facility to investigate the state of maintenance.
  • Ask working groups to look for failed light bulbs, cracked windowpanes, etc.
  • Ask each one to summarise their findings in a brief report to the main group.
  • Meet monthly afterwards to review progress until everything is right again

There are many other ways to maintain interest in the environment while exercising.

Theme 3 – Fresh Stimulating Ideas

We mentioned the road less travelled earlier. This was a reference to M. Scott Peck’s book (, in which he explores the attributes essential for fulfilled human life. Creativity is a response to unexpected events. Involve all members in a group debate.

  • Invite them to attend a learning program (such as Hale & Fun, on a topic of general interest (well, it would hardly be a Company newsletter if I didn’t squeeze in a little self-promotion)
  • Make sure this is interactive by encouraging contributions from everybody.
  • Stimulate a discussion afterwards among members to elicit their feelings.
  • Write these up on a flip chart. Leave it on the wall for several days.
  • Wrap up with a closing address that summarises the learning points.

This is an excellent way to help seniors remain cognitively active while having fun.

The offerings of Hale & Fun contribute to this effort. We specialise in supporting Australian retirement homes and care facilities through short education programs ( especially designed for senior citizens. These address the imperative to keep older minds active, while at the same time helping seniors enjoy retirement together.

Theme 4 – A Socially Active Calendar

The final stages of dementia involve complete withdrawal from society. Encouraging social activities ( keeps brains active, while helping sufferers feel motivated and happy. Develop a cycle of activities that stretches throughout the year. For example,

  • Lay in a supply of coloured tissue paper and shiny baubles at Christmas.
  • Demonstrate ways of making paper chains and other decorations.
  • Divide the members into groups of two and three with specific tasks.
  • Circulate among them to provide advice and words of encouragement.
  • Decorate the spaces where they live on Christmas Eve. Oh what fun!

Belonging to a warm community compensates for loneliness and counters isolation.


Moving Towards the Future:

The Hale & Fun Dementia Awareness Cognitive Challenge

One of the best ways to do just that is to remain cognitively active and our Company mascot, the Professor in the Hawaiian shirt has been working hard on just that.

So are you ready for the Hale & Fun Cognitive challenge?


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This year Dementia Awareness Week will run from Monday 16th  – Sunday 22nd of September and the theme is brain health, and you know what they say

  “The brain is a muscle and like any muscle it needs to be exercised!”

Is your mind up for the challenge?
Is your mind up for the challenge?

The Professor has developed a number of cognitively challenging puzzles and activity sheets for you and your residents.

These will arrive each day during Dementia awareness week to those on our newsletter mailing list.

Why not set up teams? Who can figure them out first- the residents or the staff?

Some of our clients have even incorporated their resident’s friends and families into the fun to see who really is the smartest of them all!


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It is almost October 31st and you know what that means.



Traditionally, thought to be associated with harvest festivals, these days, Halloween is a time of fun and excitement joining the ranks of Christmas, Easter and Australia day.

It also happens to be one of the Professor in the Hawaiian shirt (Our Managing director’s alter ego!) favorite times of the year.

He has already started getting in on the action and has been trying on new costumes all week.


Not to mention practicing his decorating skills, much to the concern of our neighbours…




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So here are some exciting activities that you may want to include in social calendar in the lead up to Halloween, not to mention some awesome programs that are available with Hale & Fun perfectly suited for this time of the year…

But first….

A new initiative

Hale & Fun is also planning on trailing a new initiative this year. As you may be aware every year more and more children take part in a traditional Halloween activity of Trick or Treat. Obviously, having children wandering the streets and taking candy from strangers has all sorts of dangers, which is shame because Halloween is a lot of fun both for the children and the people who they visit. So this year, we at Hale & Fun are working with community groups and the schools in the Sydney area to come up with an alternative…

….and we think we have hit Gold!

Why not incorporate the retirement villages and nursing homes?

The children could come to the homes, get dressed up and visit each of the apartments of the residents for trick or treat – a great intergenerational activity.

We could even combine it with the card marking (below) to have specific “invitations” sent to the children.

If you think your residents might be interested in such a program please contact me (, ph:8034 6945) and we can have a chat about some possibilities.


And now onto the activities…

Greeting Card Making

Making custom greeting cards can be part of almost any holiday and Halloween is no exception. Forget about Facebook and Twitter, there is nothing like receiving a handmade card through good old-fashioned mail!

All you need to do is provide the supplies to make Halloween-themed cards and then help your residents work on a card or two for their relatives and friends.

For Halloween try using orange and black paper. Have plenty of white crayons on hand to write on black paper and then often other items to adorn the cards.

Foam stickers work really well for this type of project because they are usable even for people who have arthritis or other difficulties with their hands can use easily. Foam stickers also compress well, making them perfect for mailing.

Have a few other embellishments for the cards, such as ghost or spider cut-outs and let your residents spend an afternoon making cards.

Small Pumpkin Painting


Pumpkin carving typically isn’t a good idea in homes for seniors. The dexterity and strength required to carve a pumpkin can prove problematic – and even dangerous. Instead allow the residents to paint pumpkins. By getting a range of pumpkin sizes, you can put out disposable plates with various colours of acrylic paints and sizes of paintbrushes. Let everyone paint a pumpkin and then use them to adorn the cafeteria tables and common areas throughout the month of October. Pumpkins last really well, so this craft is one that residents can enjoy for several weeks.

Food & Drink

What’s a Halloween party without some delicious food and drinks, as well as some fun entertainment? Halloween is the perfect time to have some fun when it comes to making imaginative foods and drinks that everyone can enjoy.

The following are a few great food, drink and entertainment ideas that can help make a Halloween Party one that won’t soon be forgotten.


  • Bloody Worms – Spaghetti and Meatballs
  • Mummy Dogs – Pigs in a Blanket (leave one end of hot dog showing, then put 2 dots of mustard on it for the eyes)
  • Fingers – String Cheese & Almond (use almond for fingernail)


  • Vampire Blood Cocktail – Use Tomato Juice
  • Rotten Apple Punch – Add Gummy Worms
  • Bloody Punch w/Floating Hand- Cranberry, Apple & Grape Juice w/Seltzer (for hand, pour 2 drops of food colouring into 2 cups of punch and pour into latex glove to freeze)


Why not invite a facilitator in from Hale & Fun to talk?

We have a huge number of different courses, which can be both given as one off events or as part of a larger program perfectly suited for Halloween. Some of these include:

Things That Go Bump in the Night: A History of the Gothic Genre

Seen way too many bad vampire impersonations? Want to know why this whole Twilight thing is so popular? Then this could be the course for you! We’ll look at the history and origins of one of the most popular and influential literary genres of all time – the Gothic. From its beginnings in eighteenth-century novels to its modern formulations (some might say perversions!) in horror film, popular culture and even advertising, this course will take you through centuries of dark and stormy nights, exploring such questions as: why do vampires suck blood? How is the Gothic related to the modern detective novel? And is the Gothic really always about sex?  To do this, we will look at a diverse range of literary and filmic texts by a variety of authors, from masters of the genre such as Poe to lesser-known authors like the Australian Ken Cook, and try to reach an understanding of what the Gothic is as a genre, what contextual influences have shaped it, and how and why it keeps evolving. No prior knowledge necessary and there are no wrong answers – we’ll be looking at your collected opinions and ideas to form our own literary theories!

Ghost tales

Up jumped the swagman and sprang into the billabong

“You’ll never take me alive,” said he

And his ghost may be heard as you’re passing by that billabong

You’ll come a waltzing Matilda with me


Everyone has heard tales of ghosts, spirits and the unknown. Almost every town and city you can point to have their own legend and Sydney is no different. In fact, Sydney with its turbulent past from colonial days and “novel” characters populating such places as the Rocks and Kings Cross has had more than its fair share of the supernatural haunting. Why do ghost tales persist in this era of enlightenment? What is their appeal? And how do people study their occurrence? In this course, we will explore not only some of the classical ghosts’ tales of Sydney but also look at the science of paranormal investigation. This course is not for the faint hearted but definitely worthwhile for those with a little spirit.


Where Biology meets fantasy

Every wondered what that was that went bump in the night? Have you seen something out of the corner of your eye and no one believes you? Don’t worry you are not alone.

Many people may laugh when they hear stories of the Loch Ness monster or Bigfoot but did you know there is an entire scientific discipline devoted to the study of these creatures, animals whose existence has not yet been proven? Some of the creatures, called cryptids, are obviously fantastical, but cryptozoology studies all manner of suspected cryptids. This multi-discipline approach to the fringe science of cryptozoology will draw upon psychology, history, popular culture and biology to bring these animals, the people who chase them and why they fascinate us to light.

A look at our most iconic myths throughout the ages: UFOs, Zombies, vampires, werewolves and witches

Science, Sociology, History, Anthropology, Psychology and Mythology all combine as we venture into the world of some of humanity’s most enduring myths and legends.

Vampires were once ghouls who haunted graveyards, yet now they sparkle in the daylight. How did this happen?

Witches were once renounced and burned at the stake, yet Wicca and Witchcraft are now recognised as valid religions and lifestyle choices.

Why in this modern era are the icons of past centuries still popular? This course takes a look at some of our most enduring myths or legends. Each session will look at how they have adapted as the world changes around them and what they represent to us. However, this is not just a course looking at the myths and legends, this course draws on history, specific case studies, as well as the psychology and science involved. Prepare for a journey into the world of some of our most famous legends looking at their occurrences, case studies, psychological underpinnings and possible scientific explanations for the mania surrounding them.




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The world of graphic novels and those who love them!

Looking for an event that not only your residents will enjoy but something that they will want to bring their friends and family to as well?

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Read on about Hale & Fun new initiative to create a program that bridges the generational gap and make visiting retired relatives the highlight of the social week!

Hello Friends,

The age of the Geek is upon us and this nowhere more obvious than in the popularity that Comic books and Graphic novels.  The recent worldwide event known as Free Comic Book day ( showed just how popular this culture has become.

Whether it is Marvel, DC, Image or independent publishers- people from all ages are rekindling their love for this medium. And why wouldn’t they? Comic books have been around for generations, they have a rich and diverse history including their fair share of legends, scandals, censorship and exploitation. They have been made into motion pictures, cartoons, television series and stage shows. Everywhere we look we see the influence of comics.

This got us thinking at Hale & Fun- Here we have a topic that bridges the generation gap, something that not only Grandpa and Ma can enjoy, but so can their grandkids. Wouldn’t it be great if we could harness this interest and create a course that would not only interest the residents of retirement homes but also their younger relatives?


Imagine the excitement that young grand children would have to the idea of visiting their Grandparents and learning about not only Superman, Spiderman and Batman but also the legends behind them.


We are now proud to offer the first of our program specifically tailored to interest not only residents of retirement homes but also their younger friends and relatives as well.

(if you will excuse me for a second, while don my sales person hat…)

This program is derived from the same set of courses offered by Dr. Daniel White at a number of community colleges around Sydney – so you are getting a college level quality course for a fraction of the price, at a time and location that suits you.

Now that’s out of the way..I am proud to present:

 The world of graphic novels and those who love them!

If you ever wondered why so many people ever year dress up in spandex for comic conventions, then this is for you! Picture based communication is one of the most ancient forms of communication in human history and in recent years has grown from being the sole domain of fan boys and girls to main stream popular culture. Join us in an exploration of the history of graphic novels and it diverse modern incarnations. Be prepared to not only gain an appreciation for this medium as an art form but also discuss the character archetypes who inhabit these worlds. We will look at the recent transition to motion picture and consider some of the key individuals and prominent events that have occurred, are ongoing and have shaped this popular culture icon into what it is today. We will even look at some of the individuals who don a cape and mask and go out to battle evil doers in real life. After joining us for this adventure into the world of graphic novels, you will not only know who would win in a battle between the Hulk and Wolverine but have the facts to back it up!

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Valentines day and activities for retirement homes

Valentine’s Day and retirement home activities
Looking for a simple yet exciting way to engage your residents in activities?
Valentine’s Day is coming up on the 14thof February and is the perfect time to inject some fun and festivity into the day’s activities.
Did you know that Valentine’s Day is the second most celebrated holiday throughout the world?
There are a number of different crafts and activities that can be fun and engaging for seniors. For a few ideas to get started, read more below.

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Heart Shaped Boxes
Inexpensive heart shaped boxes can often be found quite easily at this time of the year by checking local stores. Providing a variety of different crafting materials, such as stickers, markers and lace, that can be used to decorate the top of the box, allows the residents to make a unique keepsake. For a non-toxic alternative to store-bought glitter, try this recipe that uses salt or sugar with food colouring:
 If you worry that your residents might be stuck for inspiration, this link has some more suggestions:
Valentine’s Day Bingo
Bingo is a fun game that can be enjoyed by men and women alike. Easily adaptable, retirement home residents will enjoy the colourful change of this themed game. Only a few materials are needed to make it. On construction paper, make a grid five squares wide and five squares high. Label the middle square as a free space by writing “Free Space” within a heart on it. On the other spaces on the board, write the saying from one candy that is taken from a package of candy hearts, being careful not to duplicate the location of these sayings on other boards that are made. The caller uses these candy hearts to call out the sayings.  The seniors can then use cinnamon candy hearts to mark the called spaces that are located on their board. The first one who gets five in a row calls out Bingo and gets candy as the prize. (
Schedule Some Entertainment
This idea is one that the residents are sure to love. Line up some local talent to come in and sing some romantic songs, perform a short skit based on a classic movie about love, read passages of favourite love stories or all three. An alternative is to ask for volunteers among the staff to provide entertainment for the residents. Perhaps there is a budding actor and actress that would be willing to show off their talents. Or maybe there is a star singer among the staff that enjoys belting out favourite love songs.

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These ideas above are designed to get the creativity flowing. For more ideas and inspiration, click on the links below.

Activities and events for retirement homes part 2

Chinese New Year and activities for retirement homes
Looking for a simple yet exciting way to engage your residents in activities?
Have you thought about the upcoming Chinese New Year?
The 10th of February marks the start of The Chinese New Year and is one of the most important holidays in the Chinese calendar. But it is also a great way to introduce residents to the unique traditions and customs of this culture in a fun filled way.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some easy and cost efficient Chinese New Year activities for retirement home managers to organize for their residents.
Decorative Chinese Lanterns
Chinese lanterns are a typical decoration associated with Chinese New Year. They are usually made of paper or even silk for a fancier effect. Red is usually the chosen colour, as it a symbol of happiness and good fortune. Homemade Chinese lanterns normally use a series of paper cuts to create a decorative effect. Another fun version is to use a printed template to create lanterns with illustrated designs.
Basic Chinese Lantern Template:
Dragon Lantern Template:
Dragon Lantern Instructions:
Play Mah-jong
Mah-jong is akin to the Western tradition of playing cards. It is often enjoyed among groups of people after a festive meal. The game uses a set of tiles imprinted with various Chinese symbols and characters. There are many stores (including several online) that sell sets of Mah-jong tiles and even playing card versions. Mah-jong typically involves four players per game. As with card games, it comes with it own set of rules and instructions for winning and scoring.
Not sure how Majong is played. Hale & Fun has a number of highly skilled Majong trainers who can help you and your residents understand this great game. Please contact Hale & Fun on or 02 8034 6945/0425282317 to organise some training sessions.
Mahjong Rules:
Make Spring Couplets
As with many other cultures, New Year in China is considered a celebration of renewal. It is a tradition to create decorative spring couplets, or chun lian. These are hanging banners that feature a poem in beautiful calligraphy. The words inscribed in the couplet usually contain sentiments of renewal and happiness for the upcoming year. To create spring couplets, start out with sheets of red paper. There are many websites that offer printable templates of Chinese characters for spring couplets. Print a few copies to allow residents to cut and paste them or use them as a painting reference guide. The characters should be painted on in gold or black paint. Finally, tie the dried paper to a stick and hang it up.
Spring Couplets Craft Instructions:
 The Chinese New Year is the Chinese community’s biggest and most colourful celebration, spanning 15 days altogether.  It is celebrated by both the mainland Chinese and the diasporic Chinese communities and is becoming a bigger and bigger attraction each year in Sydney. The Chinese New Year can also be an great time to get all of your residents active and engaged in all sorts of activities. One option that you should consider is Hale & Fun very own Chinese New Year Games Session conducted by Sandra Fong(B.A. UNSW in English literature and Chinese studies). Sandra Fong was born in Sydney and raised in Singapore, a South-east Asian country with a largely Chinese population.  She is proud to be a member of the Chinese diaspora. Sandra studied English literature and advanced Chinese studies at the University of New South Wales, and is currently pursuing an honours year at the University of Sydney. Sandra is bilingual in English and Mandarin Chinese, and enjoys celebrating Chinese New Year annually with family and friends of all cultural backgrounds. In her spare time, she writes songs influenced by the Asian popular and western classical traditions.
Sandra highly interactive course allows your residents to learn all about the Chinese New Year through an hour or two hours sessions of games and fun including:
Chinese New Year Trivia Challenge
Engage in some friendly competition and test your knowledge of the Chinese New Year celebration.
Cryptic Spring Couplets
Spring couplets are a special decoration put near doors at Chinese New Year.  Work in teams to create your own rhyming couplets (in English!) with some translation and help from the facilitator.
Chinese New Year Song Performance
Hear some traditional Chinese New Year songs and learn about the Chinese musical style. If you’re game enough, you could even have a go at writing a Chinese New Year song on the spot (translated into Chinese and sung/accompanied on keyboard by the facilitator). 
Fusion Food Treasures
Learn about the significance of the different foods people eat at Chinese New Year celebrations. Then, have fun imagining what an Australian ‘8 treasures’ Chinese New Year dish would look like. Points awarded to the most inventive dish, and prizes for everyone who tried things out.
If you would like to have Sandra conduct her unique Chinese new year fun and games session at your home, please contact Hale & Fun on

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