TV show aims to prove benefits of bringing young and old together

Friday, July 28, 2017

In a new experiment Channel 4 is bringing together a group of elderly care home residents and pre-school children over several weeks to assess the impact on their health, wellbeing and even life expectancy.

Many elderly residents in care homes suffer from social isolation, and according to the programme makers, 60 per cent of them have never received a single visitor.

In the new two-part series Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, screened on 1 and 2 August and available on 4OD, a group of 11 elderly care home residents and ten pre-school children will share daily activities designed by experts, who will measure and analyse the impact on the older group’s mental and physical health and emotional wellbeing.

The team of scientists - a gerentologist, a geriatrician, and a physiotherapist - will measure and analyse the older group's physical and mental progress throughout. At the end of the six-week experiment they hope to prove scientifically that bringing the two generations together can transform the physical, social and emotional wellbeing of the old volunteers for the better.

In the first episode the young and older group follow the same timetable in a nursery specially set up within a retirement village near Bristol. Inspired by a similar scheme set up 25 years ago in the US, this is the first time in the UK that an intergenerational experiment has set out to measure the impact on the health and happiness of the older group. As part of the experiment, the older group undergo tests to measure mood, memory and mobility during their daily contact with the four-year-olds.

Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds was commissioned by Channel 4 and the two-part series is made by CPL Productions.

Head of Factual Entertainment at Channel 4 Kelly Webb-Lamb, said, ‘We are delighted to be working with CPL on this innovative series that tackles an issue that is important to all of us, in a way that is heart-warming and rigorous in equal measure.’

Murray Boland, creative director of CPL, added, ‘We’ll all be old one day which makes this a subject that has the potential to affect many people. We’re excited to work with Channel 4 on this pioneering project, drawing attention to the impact of loneliness on the health of the elderly.’



Photos: Courtesy of Channel 4

The future?

The idea of intergenerational care is common in other countries including the United States, Canada, and Singapore, but is fast gaining ground in the UK.

As Nursery World reported earlier this month, the first nursery in the country to share the same site as a care home and where children will 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 a residential care home for Jewish men and women run by the charity Nightingale Hammerson.

The nursery’s principal Judith-Ish Horowicz told Nursery World, ‘We believe it’s the first of its kind. 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.’

It’s not just the elderly that could benefit from such schemes.

Last week we also featured an intergenerational project called Spring Chickens, linking Fulbrook Nursery School in the West Midlands with its local residential care home Delves Court.

This six-week project, which involved a group of eight children, was shown to improve the children’s well-being and communication skills.

The nursery school is planning to run the programme each term with a group of different children, while the care home will choose new participants too.

  • The first episode of Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds was shown on Channel 4 on Tuesday 1 August. The programmes will be available on 4OD.

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