Working with Old and Young

Many children in today’s world have little contact with older people and vice versa in a care home. But bringing these two generations together can be a really special thing to do. Here, we look at how to work with baby and children’s groups…

There are lots of ways to bring young people into your care home. You can host baby and toddler groups, invite schools in, work with Brownies and Scouts or speak to local church youth groups. You could also run grandchildren sessions with special activities designed to bring the two generations together. (See suggestions below.)

Simple coffee mornings work well, but you could also get people doing activities such as gardening, DIY, cooking or even cleaning. Getting residents to impart their wisdom to a younger generation is a really special way of connecting.

You could also find common ground to share – playing board games, talking about musicals, football or other hobbies and interests.

And you may find older children’s groups, such as choirs or performing arts groups, would like to put on a show.

Life Stories

One way to give these sessions a focus is to get everyone to work together to develop their own life story boards. Children can prepare boards beforehand using photos from magazines as well as photos of their families, and also their own drawings, while activity coordinators can work with residents to develop simple one-page personal profiles. Then invite the children into the care home to talk to residents about their life stories and have the residents compare their profiles to that of the children.

Fun & Games

It’s important to also tap into the children’s innate capacity for fun. Use things like story balls, parachutes, toys and children’s books and get them to play with each other.

Focused Activities

Another idea is to pick a themed trip and get everyone talking about it. Research a topic such as going to the zoo, going shopping or visiting the seaside, and then add conversation starters into it. Arrange a joint trip to your place of choice where old and young could look for the things they’d been studying and learning about. Often children will be visiting a place for the first time, so the residents can rediscover it with them. Leave lots of opportunities for talking about what they’ve seen or done.

Dignity Challenge

Any work on dignity has real merit for everyone involved. Start the sessions by talking about what dignity means, and how you can show respect to people in different ways. Then look at the Dignity in Care logo – a daisy – and make a daisy chain. Get everyone in the care home and school group talking about what dignity means to them. You can also do role play and improvisation around dignity issues, make daisy-themed gifts, or encourage children to create a daisy diary or a daisy scrapbook, demonstrating instances of dignity and respect in their weekly lives.