WORTHING, UK: Worthing-based care home Melrose has formed a partnership with a local nursery to share the benefits of inter-generational care between older residents and young children. Over the last four months, Melrose has developed the project with Woodstock Day Nursery, which sees two groups of six children visiting the care home on a weekly basis.
The positive effects of building friendships across generations have already been heavily explored in previous projects. In 2013, a study by BMC Geriatrics found that elderly people in a similar care scheme in Japan communicated with the toddlers and as a result, engaged more with their fellow residents, leading them to feel more comfortable with one another and smile more often. This has the potential to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation that can be common amongst older individuals and create a positive community spirit.
Similarly, the recent Channel 4 hit show Old People’s Home for Four Year Olds showed that interactions with toddlers offered residents more than just an uplift in mood. The three-month experiment, which took place at Lark Hill retirement village in Nottingham, used expert tests to show that friendships with young children can help the elderly to improve both their memory and mobility.
Melrose Care Home is looking to replicate these findings with their new partnership, which also offers advantages for the participating children from Woodstock Day Nursery. As well as getting the opportunity to venture out into the community, the children are supported in their development at Melrose through play and life experiences, with activities allowing them to practise fine motor skills and develop conversational skills with the care home residents.
Woodstock Day Nursery is a mile and a half away from Melrose so the children travel by bus. They look forward to the bus journey and chatter excitedly from the moment they leave the nursery; they talk about where they are going, who they are going to see and what they are going to do that day. The walk allows us to talk about road safety and play guessing games on route. On the journey the children excitedly tell the nursery practitioners about places they have been to and point out buildings that they recognise. Once the Woodstock children arrive at Melrose they take off their shoes and coats as quickly as possible and rush into the conservatory area ready to meet their new friends.
These activities cover all the Prime Areas of Early Years Foundation Stage (EFYS); Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, and Communication and Language. The Melrose residents attend these activities with excitement and enthusiasm, eager for both the children’s skills and their relationships with them to grow.