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Care home in West Norfolk stays young at heart with visits from schoolchildren

PUBLISHED: 13:08 09 January 2019

Children do a number of activities with the residents. Photo: supplied by Ashleigh Vincent

Children do a number of activities with the residents. Photo: supplied by Ashleigh Vincent

Ashleigh Vincent

A care home in West Norfolk has been turning the clocks back when groups of primary school children come to visit.

Children do a number of activities with the residents. Photo: supplied by Ashleigh VincentChildren do a number of activities with the residents. Photo: supplied by Ashleigh Vincent

Diamond House care home in Downham Market has been enjoying intergenerational visits from Hillcrest Primary School twice a month for the past two months and staff say it has already helped residents with their memory and thinking skills.

Natalie Wright, manager at Diamond House, said: “It’s quite common for primary school children to have the odd visit to a care home but we think that our arrangement with Hillcrest Primary School is quite special.

“Cognitive stimulative therapy (CST) has been proven to stimulate the mind but more importantly, the visits provide our residents with genuine enjoyment. The residents have built up relationships with the children and everyone looks forward to the sessions.”

Residents and children take part in a number of activities and puzzles during the visits, in addition to seasonal arts and crafts. At the most recent get-together in December, the group created Christmas decorations.

Children do a number of activities with the residents. Photo: supplied by Ashleigh VincentChildren do a number of activities with the residents. Photo: supplied by Ashleigh Vincent

Matthew Try, headteacher at Hillcrest, said: “It is important that the primary school experience is about more than solely the teaching of English and maths or the study of the broad range of curriculum areas that we have to cover with the children.

“By working in partnership with organisations in the community such as Diamond House, we provide the pupils with an invaluable opportunity to play an important role in the wellbeing of others which helps to develop the social, emotional and personal skills of the children, therefore supporting the whole child. We look forward to continuing to grow and develop the relationship between Hillcrest and Diamond House over the coming months and years.”

Intergenerational care is thought to have started in 1976, when Shimada Masaharu merged a nursery school and care home in Tokyo with great success, which began a wave of intergenerational programmes all across the globe.

A study by BMC Geriatrics in 2013 found that elderly people who took part in the scheme were not only engaging with the visitors, but were engaging with each other and smiling more as a result. The scheme made the residents more comfortable with conversation, and also gave them something new to talk about.

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