There’s been a lot of discussion about the importance of “inter-generational” therapy in the sector recently. Put simply – can introducing children and young people into care homes for older people help both age groups?
Channel 4 recently broadcast “Old People’s Home for 4 year olds” which has shone a light on how this practice can support both generations.
For children, it means getting one-on-one attention from a grown up, rather than a parent whose attentions are often on various things at once. For older people, it means engaging with children in a way they don’t usually get the chance to, and invigorates them.
One care home in Grimsby has adopted this practice and routinely invites children into the home to meet with the residents.
During a typical session the children sing songs, engage in interactive dance, and play – with the residents often joining in!
Manager of the Ashgrove Care Home, Debbie Cadey-Ames told the Grimsby Telegraph that the team there “just wanted to bring the young and the old together. When the children come into the residential home, their faces light up.”
“It brings out so many memories back and they’ve all got so much love to give. It’s enjoyed by all.”
Writing for the Guardian Social Care Network, Kinga Dabrowska wrote about the impact that inviting primary school children into Abbey House Care Home in Swindon made.
“It was fascinating to see how people with impaired communication skills felt motivated and willing to speak to children, to answer their questions, to make a sound,” they write.
“Dementia can manifest itself with challenging behaviour, withdrawal or awkwardness in social interactions. In the presence of children, it all seems to subside, moods lift and alertness resurfaces. No one is indifferent when children are around.”
Indeed, it’s impossible to not be alert or active when children are involved. Perhaps there is something about those who are new to the world and those long old to it that brings them together.
However, the benefits speak for themselves. When both children and adults feel enlivened by the experience of being together, initiatives like these make a huge impact on people’s lives. It’s a free, relatively simple and, it would seem, effective form of practice that all social care teams should consider.