What do young children and senior citizens have in common? The answer – both benefit from the time they share together.
This was very much in the minds of managers and staff at a St Annes based care home and a children’s nursery.
Lakeview Care Homes and Shepherd Lodge Nursery have begun an exciting new partnership in which they bring together seniors and toddlers to meet and enjoy each others’ company.
This has already been tried in some countries and in the south of England, but Lakeview and Shepherd Lodge will be amongst the first to introduce this partnership in the north of England.
Claire Henning, Sales and Customer Relationship Manager of Lakeview, explained: “This is an exciting new initiative for us and one that we are keen to embrace. Research has demonstrated that young children and older people often create a fantastic bond which enriches their lives, aids communication and improves self esteem.
It has been found to be especially beneficial for residents with dementia. Evidence shows that there are similarities between toddlers and people with this condition – both groups live a life in which they are ‘happy in the moment.’
The first meeting, held at Lakeview’s The Moorings proved a huge success. With parent’s permission staff from Shepherd Lodge brought eight of their 2-4 year olds, namely Mia, Emily, Heidi, Bella, Reggie, Noah, Stanley and Charlie, to the home. They each brought their favourite book or toy, which proved an ideal conversation starter.
When 2 year old Reggie was met at the entrance to The Moorings, and asked if he was here to see us, he proudly announced, “’No – I am here for the people!”
And the people were delighted! Residents from all four of Lakeview’s homes (The Moorings, Lakeview Lodge, Rosewood Lodge and Newfield Lodge) were able to attend. Marjorie Brook, Jose Ramos, Lesley Blackledge, Joan Stanton, Jean Taylor, Ann Lord, Ivy Dullaghan were delighted to meet the youngsters.
Jean Taylor said, ‘For all of the events and activities we have, this was by far the most enjoyable for me. In their innocence the children bring great joy.’
It certainly brought back memories for resident Lily who said, ‘What an amazing event to have and what lovely children. Hearing the children’s names took me back to when I was a girl – we had a Charlie, Reggie, Stanley, Amy and a Ronnie in my class too.’
Fellow directors Pete and Nick Wood joined in the activities too. Pete said: “’It was amazing to see the behaviour and enjoyment of all ages, and I include myself. The children naturally gravitated to our residents, greeting them with a warm hug and the residents seemed to shake off any age related aches or pains and gave that crucial thing all children relish – patience to listen and soothing encouragement. In our busy lives many working parents find that they are time poor, but elderly people have plenty of time to share. And to share that time with the young is a privilege and a pleasure.”
Staff at Shepherd Lodge were equally delighted to see the easy relationship between young and old, and it was interesting that the children were completely unfazed by the sight of wheelchairs and walking frames. They were far too busy chatting to their new friends to even notice them! They enjoyed playing skittles and the crazy golf was also a favourite. They also played musical instruments, sang songs, shared in some refreshments, and gave great big hugs as they were leaving.
Dawn Kuzan from Shepherd Lodge, said “When I was listening to the stories from the afternoon and talking to some of the parents, I was so moved that I literally welled up. It was so lovely hearing about the day and it’s very obvious how beneficial the trip was.”
Fylde MP Mark Menzies commented: “I was delighted to hear about this initiative between The Moorings and Shepherd Lodge Nursery. Bringing seniors and toddlers together to create bonds has been used successfully in Australia, Japan, United States and in some UK studies. Research has shown that there are fantastic benefits for each generation; the little ones bring a new sense of vibrancy and fun which helps boost the older people’s self-esteem. The time, patience and life-experience of the older generation can bring brighter smiles, improved conversations and better friendships with the children.”
Finally Nick added ‘I am really proud to be part of the initiative. My daughter goes to Shepherd lodge, so it was emotional to see the two worlds come together like this.’