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Children hold answer to elderly fun, says local care home

PUBLISHED: 07:00 05 April 2019

Joan Gough and Poppy try to master this thing called music together

Joan Gough and Poppy try to master this thing called music together

Archant

Intergenerational mixing is a sure fire to keep the elderly young and teach the young about life.

Ivy Hearmitage and Chloe find fun in playIvy Hearmitage and Chloe find fun in play

So that’s just what staff at Heathfield Court Care home in Northumberland Heath, Bexley, is doing in experimental sessions.

They are putting to the test the old adage that there’s nothing like having children around to keep you young.

To that end, it has become the first care home in the area to run fortnightly sessions it is called Little Ducklings.

They bring in pre-reception age children up to five years old in association with local charity, Bexley Snap.

Ivy Hearmitage and Chloe find fun in playIvy Hearmitage and Chloe find fun in play

They said the aim is to provide plenty of opportunity for play and to give the residents a chance to get involved and to stimulate happy memories.

Children from Bexley Snap attended the first ‘Let’s Sing and Play’ session along with 15 residents.

They included 98-year-old Ivy Hermitage who played with Chloe aged two, and 84-year-old, Joan Gough, who got along with Poppy also two.

Joan said: “We have really being looking forward to the little ones coming in and loved joining in the singing with them.”

Jane Mayers, from Bexley Snap, added: “We all love going there.

“The Heathfield Court residents are so lovely and funny and the staff so welcoming and relaxed.”

They said research in the UK and internationally shows elderly adults who experience close intergenerational social interaction are less prone to depression and enjoy a reduced risk of disease.

This concept began over 40 years ago when a nursery school and a care home were combined in Japan in response to problems with an ageing population.

Since then, there have been successful schemes across Europe, Australia and the US.

In Singapore, the government committed £1.7bn to initiatives to improve ageing through intergenerational projects.

The UK is ‘behind the curve’, said Heathfield Court, but is beginning taking root at care homes scattered across the country that are running nursery school sessions or similar in their homes.

Jane added: “We are using basic sign along – which is a language programme that uses signs and symbols to help the residents and the children communicate.”

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