As interest grows in intergenerational care, with early years settings and care homes forging links, a new project bringing together three age groups has launched.
Healthcare and early years students from Banbury and Bicester College and Reading College have been running a range of activities with local nurseries and care homes as part of a project called ‘The Gift’.
Launched in January 2018, the project is funded by education and training group Activate Learning, which runs the two colleges, through its Services to the Public faculty.
Residents and children from Green Pastures Christian Nursing Home and the Hobby Horse Children’s Centre in Banbury, and St Luke’s Care Home, Berkeley Gardens Day Nursery and Wigwam Day Nursery in Reading, were invited to take part in the project.
Students carried out visits and observations at Apples and Honey Nightingale nursery in London for research before embarking on the project.
They were studying for either their Level 2 certificate for the children and young people’s workforce, technical Level 3 diploma in childcare and education, Level 2 technical diploma in health and social care, or Level 3 extended diploma in health and social care.
Leah Bryan, early years assessor at Banbury and Bicester College, explained, ‘Healthcare and early years students played a key part in this project. Early years students challenged themselves to think about developing activities that were appropriate for both the elderly and the very young. Healthcare students had to consider the individual needs of each elderly person and how the environment could be adapted to ensure that they could fully join in and “play” with the children. All students also had to consider the health and safety implications of our intergenerational project.’
Banbury and Bicester College campus
Students from both colleges developed activities with the help of Activate Learning staff, and regularly observe each other’s sessions, held once a month on each college campus, to encourage reflection and feedback.
On the Banbury and Bicester College campus, six residents aged between 88 and 96, six children aged between three and four, and four students aged between 16 and 18 participate in the sessions. In Reading, 10 residents, six children and four students attend.
April and Don at the Reading College campus
As part of the 90-minute sessions, children arrive 15 minutes early to settle in and get used to the environment. When the residents arrive, a student leads a welcome song with all of the participants and provides them with an introduction to the session’s activities.
Activities include crafts such as making paper-plate puppets, handprint painting and biscuit decorating, sensory activities such as playdough modelling, small-world play, puzzles and reading books.
There is an open snack bar available throughout the sessions to allow children to help themselves to healthy food.
The sessions finish with a story read by a student, some action songs and then a goodbye song for the whole group to join in with together.
The children then return to the nursery and residents stay to have tea and cake with the students and reflect on the session.
Ms Bryan said there were many benefits to having all three generations involved in the project. ‘Students will ultimately gain a deeper understanding of the needs of the young and the elderly, as well as the opportunity to assist social integration with different members of their own community. This bringing together of three generations can only serve to enrich the intergenerational focus of the project as a whole.
‘In a short period of time, we have already seen some strong friendships develop between residents and children. One child has spoken so much at home about her new friend that the families have actually arranged to visit the care home and the resident.
‘The Gift is a hands-on project and has helped students to learn both communication and industry-specific skills. They have seen relationships develop between children and adults, which gives our students a great sense of achievement.’
Claire Hermitage, director of childcare at Berkeley Gardens Day Nursery, added, ‘It has been great to see children who are not so confident meeting and interacting with people they don’t know. They have been making connections with the care home residents by drawing them a picture or inviting them to take part in an activity, which has been lovely to watch.’
Activate Learning hopes to extend the project to more care home providers and nurseries throughout Oxfordshire and Berkshire.
Additional students will be involved to expand the range of activities on offer, such as catering students helping with cake baking, and sports students developing games suitable for all ages.
The colleges are also looking to trial a ‘mums and tots’ session in Banbury and a session for primary school children in Reading.
Stephen Burke, director of United for All Ages, said, ‘This is a fantastic initiative by Activate Learning colleges. With the huge growth in intergenerational care projects between nurseries and care homes, involving students during their training is a win-win-win for three generations.
‘The workforce of the future will see the benefits of intergenerational interaction between young and older people, embedding it in their practice when they move into work. We’d like to see this happening at every college training childcare and care workers.
‘Intergenerational learning also needs to be incorporated into qualifications. It will help provide more opportunities for career development and progression.’
- See All About…intergenerational co-location