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Digital Subscriptions > Life and Work > January 2018 > Young visitors ‘wow’ care home residents

Young visitors ‘wow’ care home residents

Thomas Baldwin reports on a new scheme in which small children have playdates with the residents of a Crossreach care home.

A GROUP of pre-school children are helping to combat loneliness and boost the wellbeing of elderly people at a care home run by CrossReach, the social care arm of the Church of Scotland.

Residents at Whinnieknowe, a 24-bed care home in Nairn, near Inverness, are taking part in ‘playdates’ with children from a local family support centre. Aged between 65 and 100, the residents take part in a range of activities including singing, arts and crafts and storytelling with their young friends.

The initiative – named WOW (Wee Ones at Whinnieknowe) – was inspired by a Channel 4 documentary, Old People’s Home for Four Year Olds, about a similar intergenerational project in Bristol, as well as research – particularly from America, where such inter-generational schemes are becoming increasingly common – showing that they can drastically improve the quality of life of care home residents.

The project began in the summer when Sarah Butters, activities co-ordinator at Whinnieknowe, asked via social media if local parents would be interested in taking part.

After Sarah received a positive response, home manager Lynda Wilson approached Jayne Macintosh, manager of the family centre Junior World, with whom Whinnieknowe had an existing partnership. Jayne contacted the parents of the 150 children registered at the Family Centre and very quickly received 70 consented responses.

Meanwhile, Sarah approached the residents at Whinnieknowe to ask them if they would be interested in such an initiative.

She took the time to show them the documentary, and six residents said they wanted to sign up to the initiative.

In addition, Sarah and Jayne undertook a specialist Intergenerational Training Course for Trainers and Practitioners and over the months of September and October the practicalities of Health and Safety, policies, insurances and safeguarding were put in place.

The first weekly session took place on Tuesday October 31, with the residents and young visitors spending an hour sharing craft activities, chatting about the materials they were using and instructing each other in how to make the best pictures.

Lynda said the response had been ‘fantastic’.

She said: “We wanted to see our clients having the same response the older group had in the documentary, to combat loneliness, improve health and wellbeing.

“We also wanted to reach out to the local community and to be a catalyst for integration for all ages.

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About Life and Work

In this issue CELEBRATING YOUNG PEOPLE - The Church and the Year of Young People HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY - History and background A survivor of genocide in Rwanda tells her story HOMELESS SUNDAY A prayer BRIDGING GENERATIONS Intergenerational work and the Church