The Long Read: Book end generations interact across Banbury
When Channel 4 aired the ground breaking docu-series in August 2017, it probably never expected the mini revolution it would inspire within the care home community.
In addition to the two groups already outlined Adderbury’s immersive musical group, Voices Across Time, teamed up with Banbury’s Glebefields Nursing Home last May to produce a participatory musical where residents were encouraged to sing along and play musical instruments with the group.
Furthermore Funky Pants Music and Dance, a music group for toddlers and preschoolers, is teaming up with Gracewell Residential Home in Adderbury and was due to hold its first collaborative session last Wednesday.
We will provide a full report on this in next week’s paper.
The concept, however, is not new at all.
The idea of combining polar opposite age ranges together was first pioneered in an American study a quarter of a century ago.
The Channel 4 programme whose producers liaised with Age UK for the show, was, however, the first time geriatric specialists medically tested the impact children had on the health of the older generation in the UK.
The benefits observed among the elderly manifested themselves both physically and mentally showing improvements in their mood, memory and even mobility.
Voices Across Time reported similar results with its care home show with otherwise taciturn residents becoming more social and the target of a final performance improving the residents’ concentration and overall mood.
Youngsters, too, reap the benefits as older people have more wisdom, are better at problem solving and are more emotionally stable, all of which they enjoy imparting on younger generations.
These mutual benefits are no more apparent than at Fairholme House residential care home in Bodicote where a visit from preschoolers became an instant success.
Around October last year, Bodicote’s nursery children and care home residents came together, again, as a direct result of watching the Channel 4 programme Old People’s Home for 4-Year-Olds.
Residents of Fairholme House and children from Kingsfield Nursery interact during a once a week meeting.
Now, several months into the scheme the hour-long, Friday morning sessions have become a firm favourite for both parties.
Jacquie Moss, Fairholme manager said: “When it first started I was a bit worried how the children were going to react. We knew the residents would love it, children and pets are wonderful.”
The group of eight to ten two-to-four-year-olds took to the weekly sessions without a care in the world.
Julie Smalley, activity co -ordinator at the home said: “It doesn’t faze them at all, not one bit. They make biscuits and take them to the residents, they bop balloons with the residents. They’re not a bit shy, the children and they come in all smiles.”
The bond between the residents and the nursery children has grown with each passing visit and Mrs Smalley has already planned a collaborative Easter project for both parties.
Even the most introverted residents have a new lease of life as soon as the ‘little people’ arrive, interacting, smiling and talking more freely than during other activities.
Ms Moss said: “The residents’ interaction with the children is just wonderful and vice versa. It’s just been a lovely idea.”
Mrs Smalley added: “It’s too good not for it to carry on. I’d do it five days a week if I could.”
One resident who has reaped particular benefits from the sessions is dementia sufferer Margaret.
Daughter-in-law Suzanne Briggs, said: “She just comes alive. She can be grumpy but the minute they walk through the door it’s like a switch.
“She becomes animated and uses her speech. It’s the highlight of Margaret’s week.”