New Century Care has collaborated with the local community around two of our homes to launch some of the UK’s first ever intergenerational playgroups – in a move that has been described as one of ‘the highlights of the week’ by some of the residents.
Over the last six months, the intergenerational playgroup concept has been trialled at Westbank care home in Borough Green, in Kent, and since June at The Oaks care home in Colchester, in Essex. With successful results at both homes, we plan to roll out intergenerational playgroup sessions across all 21 homes in the group over the coming months.
Lexden Lodge Kindergarten visit The Oaks every fortnight, and you can watch BBC, Look East’s report on one of the play group's sessions here.
The initiative was inspired by similar schemes in the United States and New Zealand, which show positive outcomes for both the young and the old – particularly in tackling loneliness among the elderly residents and improving children’s language development.
People are fearful of losing contact with the larger community when moving to a care home, especially with the younger generation, so this is a way of re-connecting people, banishing any feeling of being isolated.
Psychological studies have shown that well-designed contact between people all ages, from outside the home, contributes to the psychological well-being and even physical health of residents of care homes (Chamberlain, Fetterman, & Maher, 1994; Lambert, Dellmann-Jenkins, & Fruit, 1990; Newman, Lyons, & Onawola, 1985; Ward, Kamp, & Newman, 1996).
It’s not only our residents that have clearly benefitted from the regular visits and sessions, the children have forged new friendships with them. They don’t see age, they just see a new companion, which they can learn from and obtain a greater awareness of the ageing process. Studies show that children that lack intergenerational relationships may develop distorted attitudes toward older adults and aging (Aday, Aday, Arnold, & Bendix, 1996; McCollum & Shreeve, 1994).
Activity Coordinators at The Oaks and Westbank design and implement an action-packed day of games in the garden, exercises, arts and craft sessions, incorporating music and singing. The programme is specially designed to allow full participation from the children and the residents, in a way which will keep them safe, healthy and active.
Lindsay Ridley, Activities Coordinator at The Oaks care home said, “It is such a great experience for both the residents and the children. Interacting with the children brings huge smiles to the residents’ faces, and it is good to see so much excitement on all sides. Events like this are a hallmark of good care, and we couldn’t be happier to have more planned. When they leave, we all can't wait for them to visit again.”
Jon Catterwell, Regional Manager of the South East said,“We have been running the playgroup at Westbank and The Oaks for six-months now, and it has proven to be a huge hit with both the children and our residents." He went on to say, "Having the children, who are wonderful bundles of energy encourages our residents to be active, and helps them to interact and remain engaged with the local community which we value so highly. We are now working with our other homes and their respective local communities to set up similar playgroups.”
We look forward to rolling this initiative out across the other New Century Care Homes in the near future, and maintaining our relationship with the play groups.
New Century Care has collaborated with the local community to two of our homes to launch some of the UK’s first ever intergenerational playgroups.