The idea of intergenerational care has also been gaining interest outside the sector. Earlier this month Channel 4 screened the two-part programme Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, which brought 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.
Nottingham nursery Brookhill House Day Nursery was subsequently filmed for a report for BBC East Midlands and interviewed on BBC Radio Nottingham.
The nursery’s partnership with nearby Longmoor Lodge Care Home, which has been going for 18 months, was the idea of nursery manager Jayne Harker, who told Nursery World, ‘We wanted to get out into the community and bridge the generations. A lot of our children sadly don’t have grandparents.’
She said that Longmoor Lodge had been trying to link up with schools without success, so ‘they were absolutely made-up’ when she contacted them.
Groups of three- and four-year-olds started visiting the residents once every four weeks, but the frequency has now increased to once a week.
Ms Harker said, ‘We’re trying to spearhead a campaign for more nurseries to do it. We would love to get this going around the country.
‘Some of the residents come and eat their dinner with the children and one of the ladies Marjorie comes to read stories.
‘We do make sure that we take children that have built up relationships with the older people. Ophelia, four, has been going for 18 months. Her mum is continuing to take her in to see Marjorie and the relationship is continuing even now she’s left nursery and started school.’
Meanwhile, Lexden Lodge Kindergarten in Colchester was interviewed by BBC Essex Radio and also appeared on BBC Look East.
The nursery has also recently started visiting the Oaks Care Home in Colchester.
Lexden Lodge Kindergarten
Principal Mahila Samarbakhsh said, ‘Some of the residents might not have anyone to visit them which can be quite lonely and isolating. It helped to bring them out of themselves and they seemed happier and were looking forward to our visits. One resident kept the picture one of the children painted, and brought it with him when we went to visit again. It was a great to know that others care about them.
‘The first visit only three residents were interested, but after that more and more wanted to get involved, as the visits have progressed, showing that they are becoming interested, and wanted to be a part of it.
‘This experience [has] enriched the lives of both generations. Parents in our nursery also appreciated this extra aspect of social life that their children have been able to be part of.
‘We have invited the residents to a garden party at nursery, so they are able to see where the children spend their days.’
Next month Apples and Honey Nightingale will open the first co-located nursery at a care home in the UK, a 30-place full daycare setting in the grounds of Nightingale House in south west London.