First nursery at care home unveiled

Monday, July 10, 2017

The first nursery in the UK to share the same site as a care home and where children and residents will meet daily for activities will open in September in London.

Apples and Honey Nightingale will operate a 30-place full daycare setting in the grounds of Nightingale House, a residential care home for elderly Jewish men and women, based in Clapham, south west London and run by charity Nightingale Hammerson.

Judith Ish-Horowicz, the principal of Apples and Honey nursery, which she set up in Wimbledon 26 years ago, told Nursery World, ‘It’s been my dream for a long time. Various circumstances got in the way, but I thought now is the time.’

Two-and-a-half years ago she approached Ali Somers, who has a social enterprise background and whose child attended the nursery, and together they pitched the idea to the care home’s trustees.

‘I’m so excited to get it going. Nightingale Hammerson could not have been more helpful and supportive,’ Ms Ish-Horowicz said.

The original Apples and Honey is sessional and term-time-only. The second nursery will offer full daycare for children aged two to five, but this may be extended to one-year-olds. It will open 50 weeks a year, and will offer the 30 hours from September. It will be open 7.30am to 6.30pm, except on Fridays when the nursery will close at 2pm to observe Shabbat.

The nursery will operate as a social enterprise, with 20 per cent of the childcare places reserved for Nightingale House staff. The care home is run as a charity.

Apples and Honey Nightingale is a Jewish faith-based early years setting but is open to families of ‘all faiths and none’.

‘We’re based in a Jewish care home so we can celebrate different festivals with the residents as well. Every week we will welcome the Shabbat with candles, and on Monday, the farewell ceremony, with spices and light. It brings back memories for the residents, with the same melodies and same smells,’ Ms Ish-Horowicz said.

The residents and children will also eat snacks and meals together. ‘We will have the EYFS curriculum, but so many of those activities are inclusive,’ Ms Ish-Horowicz said.

Children and residents will take part in joint arts and crafts activities

Long relationship

The nursery has been running a weekly baby and toddler group since January at Nightingale House. However, the relationship goes back much further.

Prior to this, Apples and Honey had been visiting the care home for about 15 years twice a term.

‘They even loaned us a minibus to get there and back for crafts, activities and singing. It’s a really lovely thing, something that has grown – families have “adopted” grannies and grandpas for residents who don’t have a family,’ Ms Ish-Horowicz said.

Apples and Honey Nightingale is thought to be the first nursery co-located within a care home and the first to have a curriculum with planned inclusive activities.

‘We believe it is the first of its kind,’ Ms Ish-Horowicz said. ‘There are nurseries that have relationships with care homes, but this is the first time I’m aware of when the whole raison d’être is to have daily planned activities, particularly structured for children and residents together.’She added that she hopes it will become a model for other providers.

Nightingale House has around 200 residents at the five-acre site. The average resident is in their 90s, with 10 per cent of them aged 100 or older.

The nursery will be based in what was previously nurses’ quarters and a maintenance building, and will open on to its own garden area, which residents will visit and have helped to plant. There is also a pet corner with rabbits and guinea pigs.

Susan Cohen, director of external relations at Nightingale Hammerson, said of the recent launch party, ‘It was like a different place. It’s an open, fun environment. You can just feel the life in the air. It’s very special. The residents love the children. It’s been really collaborative, and it seems so obvious. You wonder why more places don’t do it.’


The plan will be to look at how to make the curriculum intergenerational, with residents joining in with activities. Children and residents will spend time together every day, cooking and baking, doing exercise and movement classes, music and arts and crafts.

Denise Burke, co-director with Stephen Burke of United for All Ages, which is pioneering the idea of intergenerational care in the UK, said care home providers were starting to see co-location of nurseries as a real opportunity. She added, ‘To actually see it in reality is a real catalyst.’

The think-tank has been meeting with nursery groups, care providers, housing associations and local authorities to develop the idea of co-location.

Ms Burke said, ‘Potential sites have been identified and we’re looking more closely at the criteria that is needed [see below].

‘It’s more likely to be a care home provider or a social housing group that will be able to invite a nursery provider to come on board. Most nurseries don’t have the capacity – we’ll only get that with new developments.’

She added that around half a dozen sites around the country have been identified.
Meanwhile, nursery group Busy Bees is opening a new nursery in Chichester in August next door to an Anchor care home, and Torbay Council in Devon has plans for an intergenerational care site.


United for All Ages has come up with a basic outline of what it is asking older people’s care homes and housing providers to assess when considering if they could accommodate a nursery:

  • Location
  • Space requirement for 50- to 60-place nursery: minimum 600 square metres. Would need to reconfigure space into
  • age-appropriate rooms, toilets, office, staff room, etc
  • Car parking for staff and/or good public transport
  • Drop-off and pick-up access for parents
  • Access to shared catering or kitchen space
  • Outdoor space (can be shared but must be secure)
  • Business case: Is there demand for childcare?
  • Co-location
  • Potential support from residents for joint activities, etc.

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