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Improving the lives of care home residents through intergenerational activities

intergenerational activities

What are intergenerational activities?

intergenerational activitiesIntergenerational activities have a crucial role to play in how we improve the lives of our residents. They help shape the structure of activities programmes throughout our care services. They also help to develop better relationships between residents and children.

Before lockdown, intergenerational activities were well attended, with the promise of messy play, sing-a-long and snack time followed by a story with lots of little visitors. 

Here’s what some of our care team think about intergenerational activities at Brendoncare:

‘The children bring out feelings of happiness and hope, it’s nice to see everyone smiling and interacting, the children bring out the inner child of the resident’ – Leeanne at Brendoncare Knightwood

‘The children make the world a brighter place to be’ – Lynn at Brendoncare Meadway

Many of our residents have either been teachers or worked with children in a formal capacity. For example, volunteering for the Brownies or Girl Guides. Others have spent many wonderful years teaching their own children or grandchildren essential life skills like helping them learn their first words, taking their first steps and developing gross motor functions.

As a result, we see that having residents and children spend time together makes a positive difference to both generations. 

What are the benefits of intergenerational programs?

Intergenerational activities bring a wealth of benefits for both seniors and the youth. They give a huge confidence boost for our residents and children. The knowledge and skills gained by young people can even change their attitudes towards ageing.

The children don’t judge the residents. In fact, even at such a young age, they can see past the walking aids and the difficulties our residents are living with and proactively encourage them to play, have fun and laugh again. It is heart-warming.

‘10 Little Fingers and 10 Little Toes’ by Mem Fox is a much-loved rhyme that many of our residents are able to recite. It often sparks a memory, often of a special person or a particular positive feeling.  

We are lucky to have good relationships with local colleges, schools, nurseries and even childminders who visit our homes on a regular basis, to share love and laughter.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, our connected organisations have continued to share their love and support and have brightened our days by sending photos, coloured pictures, dancing videos and waving through the window at a distance.

What’s a good example of intergenerational activities?

intergenerational activities 2I remember observing a visit from the local nursery group. A resident, John, was sat comfortably and quietly in his wheelchair in the lounge, unable to make conversation or show much emotion to others. However, he was attentively watching the children moulding animals and shapes with play-dough.

A 4-year-old approached him and placed cold play-dough shapes softy along his forearm. Looking up at John, the child nervously waited for a response. A big smile suddenly beamed across both of their faces; the eye-contact and smile had communicated so much between the two of them from the child’s actions. It was a response we hadn’t seen from John before and, at that moment, it was like his world had been lit up. 

We have missed receiving regular visits from all the children and students as much as we know our residents have. On behalf of the entire Brendoncare’s activities team, thank you for your kind words, pictures and well wishes, and we can’t wait to see you again soon.

The author of this blog is Rebecca Spicer, Volunteer and Activity Manager at The Brendoncare Foundation.

National Intergenerational Week takes place across the UK from 8-14th March. You can get involved by sharing this article on social media using the hashtag #IntergenerationalWeek.