Residents at Home Meadow care home in Toft are experiencing a new kind of therapy thanks to the ‘Little Owls’ project run by local childminders, Nat Jackson and Amanda Strong.
Seven children aged one to four are now regular visitors to the Home Meadow after their childminders forged a partnership with the home to enable the children to learn more about older people in their community.
Home Meadow provides residential care for up to 49 residents, many of whom live with dementia. Since January this year, Little Owls group has been based at the home every Monday. The children spend the entire day with the residents and invite them to take part in their activities such as dance, arts and crafts and singing.
The group has a dedicated room to use for their lunch and for nap time and residents are free to come and go as they please, visiting the children and joining in their day.
Rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, childminders Nat and Amanda who run the group approached Home Meadow’s activities coordinator Joe Ballard who was immediately keen to progress the idea.
After some pilot sessions in December when the children visited the home to make Christmas crafts, it was soon agreed to make the visits regular. Nat and Amanda posted on Facebook to ask for toys and games to store at the home and were inundated with donations.
Joe said: “Having the children at the home is like a medicine to the residents. Many of the people here live with dementia and spending time with the young ones brings them joy and happiness that is so lovely to see. Some of them have formed very tight bonds with the children and seeing them on a Monday is the highlight of their week.
“We’re always looking for new ways to connect with our residents and for new activities that will make a real difference to their lives here. Studies have shown that intergenerational care can have significant positive effects on those living with dementia and this has certainly been the case with Little Owls.”
Nat Jackson of Little Owls said: “We’re really thrilled with how positive this project has been for the children and for the residents.
“We were teaching the children about people in the community and wanted them to learn more about our elderly generation. We wanted the children to interact with them, as we understood the benefits for both generations. We approached Joe to see if he would let us come and visit Home Meadow. It’s now a regular part of our week and the children love it.
“The parents of the children tell us that they go home speaking about the home and the residents they have spent time with, so we know how much they enjoy it. I would recommend this kind of initiative to anyone in childcare as the benefits to both generations are so clear.”