Water Mill House care home in Nash Mills put to the test the old adage, that there’s nothing like having children around to keep you young.
It has become the first care home in the area to run fortnightly sessions called Water Babies for local pre-reception age children.
The home has been trialling the sessions and they are already providing a focal point for local mothers and grandparents, as well as giving residents a chance to interact with the children and stimulate happy memories.
Demand for the sessions is already outstripping places available, so the home has plans to increase the frequency in the near future.
Around 12 residents have been attending each session.
The oldest Joan Lewis, 94, said: “It is lovely to see the children and to interact with them especially as some residents don’t have family living nearby.”
Sophia Beck, mother of one-year-old Aalliyah said: “I get so much enjoyment from seeing the residents with the children. Both generations really seem to benefit, and it is heart-warming to be part of such a special group.”
Research in the UK and internationally shows that elderly adults who experience close intergenerational social interaction are less prone to depression and enjoy a reduced risk of disease.
The concept of intergenerational care 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 has committed £1.7billion to initiatives to improve ageing through intergenerational projects.
The UK is somewhat ‘behind the curve’ in this area, but the concept is just beginning taking root and now a few care homes scattered across the country are running nursery school sessions or similar in their homes – the Waltham Abbey initiative is thought to be a first for the area.