Benefits of Intergenerational Care

As the second series of the BAFTA winning TV show Old Peoples’ Home for 4-Year-Olds returns to our screens, you can be sure that the subject of intergenerational care will be a hot topic for conversation amongst staff, relatives and visiting professionals in the coming weeks.

The previous two-part series, showing the benefits of bringing together a group of 4-year-olds with the residents of a Bristol care home was a surprise success, attracting average audiences in excess of 3 million across the UK. The current series has been expanded to five episodes and will aim to create a nursery within a retirement community to monitor the beneficial effects on the older people living there.

With the benefits of intergenerational care once again about to receive widespread national coverage, read on to find out more about how you can introduce this innovative approach to care within your own service.

Intergenerational Care

The initial series of Old Peoples’ Home for 4-Year-Olds was the first attempt to medically assess the impact of bringing together the old and young on a daily basis for a series of shared activities. As well as improving the quality of the care home residents’ lives, the programme set out to establish whether it would benefit their health. At the end of the experiment doctors found that those involved reported improvements in both mental and physical health, suggesting that intergenerational projects could bring measurable improvements to the wellbeing of older people living in care settings.

Follow These 4 Steps to Bring the Benefits of Intergenerational Care to Your Service 

  1. Organise a musical event: Music can be an excellent way of bringing together the generations and many schools and youth organisations have choirs, bands or orchestras seeking out audiences to perform for. Why not invite a local school or music group to your care home and offer a post-show reception to bring the young performers together with your service users?
  2. Build a link with your local day nursery: The success of Old Peoples’ Home for 4-Year-Olds has not only generated interest in care homes but also within the nursery sector. Many day nurseries would welcome the chance to connect with a like- minded care home and arrange visits between their children and your service users, either on their premises or yours, to take part in a shared activity.
  3. Befriend your local Cub or Brownie group: Most Cub and Brownie groups (Beavers and Rainbows too), actively seek out opportunities to help people in their local community, learn new skills and achieve activity badges such as those for disability awareness and entertaining others. Inviting your local groups to join you can be a productive way to help them achieve their goals whilst providing your service users with an opportunity to connect with young people from the wider community.
  4. Set up a pen pal scheme: Most older people in your care would have been used to receiving hand written correspondence on a regular basis but in the age of email, the idea of letter writing has fallen out of fashion. However, setting up a pen pal scheme with a local school to encourage pupils to write to the people living at your home can help to forge new relationships and new interests. With friendships established, it may even be possible to arrange for the correspondents to meet in person.

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