Youngsters at Smarties Nursery, based at Rastrick High School, have embarked on a project to visit care home residents at Rastrick Hall and Grange on a weekly basis, to enjoy activities which are for the old and the young at heart.
Inspired by the Channel 4 series “Old People’s Home for Four-Year olds” Clare Gibson, Smarties Nursery manager, embarked on extensive research into the benefits that can achieved by mixing pre-school age children with the elderly on a regular basis.
The research found that from a child’s perspective, the benefits included increased confidence from having regular one to one contact and building new relationships and improvements in language skills.
The benefits from an older person’s perspective included helping reduce the likelihood of depression and reduce the isolation of older adults
The weekly event is project managed by Lauren Brier who works in the pre-school room. She said: “As a practitioner, it is lovely to see the children’s excitement for a visit.
The children often come into nursery on a morning and share ideas about activities they would like to do on their visits. The project is proving to be beneficial as we have noticed significant progress in the children’s personal, social and emotional development - they have already grown to care for the residents and have formed some strong bonds.
“The residents always seem happy to see the children and enjoy talking about their own children or grandchildren and it’s nice to see them reminisce about their own childhood. It is also delightful to hear residents say how happy they are and that the children have brightened up their day”
Clare couldn’t be happier with the project, and already the benefits are clear to see. She said: “The children really look forward to going to the care home and are eager to go on a Wednesday. Their confidence has grown and they are happy to talk to all the residents and remember them by name.
“The children have had lots of involvement in the activities that we are going to take part and they interact with the residents whilst doing them, we have had conversations about how old they were and sharing memories.
“The girls especially enjoy putting on a show before we leave.
“For me personally, this week it was lovely to see all the residents joining in singing ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’.”
Joanne Davy, home manager at Rastrick Hall and Grange, said: “We are always looking for opportunities to develop and maintain positive relationships between residents and the communities they were once vibrant members of, and have really enjoyed welcoming the children from Smarties to the home.
“The benefits of inter-generational relationships such as these are numerous; we have seen residents become more social, and more engaged with the activities on offer, as well as reminiscing about their childhoods growing up in the local area.
“The children are a delight to have in the home, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with the nursery school in the future.”