The Power Of Intergenerational Connections: Our Collaboration with Growing Places Nursery

“I really love the children coming in, they make my day because they are funny, and some of them will always join in activities with me”.

“I love the children coming in, the interaction with them is so good. You can sit and talk to them for quite a while, and they give unconditional love”.

“I enjoy seeing the faces and expressions of the children. They always have something to say, even the ones that are shy at first”.

“I really like doing activities with the children, whether in the garden or baking. The concentration on their faces is so nice to watch. We love sharing stories and being part of their little lives”.

In a heartening display of community collaboration, Lorraine Mayhew, the Lifestyle Lead at Belmont Castle Care Home in Bedhampton (part of the Future Care Group), has embarked on a groundbreaking initiative. Teaming up with Morelands Growing Places Nursery, the successful duo is running an innovative programme aimed at cultivating the rich rewards of intergenerational connections.

In this case study, Lorraine Mayhew shares her account of the ‘Integration to old’ project, highlighting the many successes that have enriched the lives of both the elderly residents and the young children alike.

How Our Journey Began

Just over 16 months ago, as we stepped into the dawn of 2023, an email from Katherine Bud, Deputy Head of Growing Places Nursery, Hampshire (on the site of Morelands Primary School), sparked the inception of a remarkable mutual partnership. She extended an invitation to participate in the school’s pioneering ‘Integration to Old’ project, igniting a conversation that would soon bridge generations.

Upon receiving Katherine’s email, I engaged in dialogue with our Home Manager, Lindsey Groenewald, who wholeheartedly endorsed our involvement on behalf of the Future Care Group. Thus, with their support, our journey began with an initial visit to Growing Places Nursery.

We reciprocated by welcoming Katherine and a colleague from Moreland’s to Belmont Castle Care Home. As we gathered around the table, the significance of our partnership unfolded, underpinned by discussions on mutual benefits for their young students and our cherished residents. With due diligence, we addressed health and safety concerns, ensuring all necessary risk assessments were meticulously conducted.

The Aim Of The Integration To Old Project

The Future Care Group homes have long recognised and embraced the profound benefits of bridging generations between youths and seniors. Yet, this program introduces a refreshing consistency, ensuring our elders engage regularly with the children from Growing Places. Rather than sporadic, one-off visits, this initiative nurtures enduring relationships over time.

It is a harmonious blend where experience meets innocence, creating mutual understanding, empathy, and boundless moments of joy across generations. Through shared activities and daily interactions, residents of the care home rediscover purpose and vitality, while the young children of the nursery school glean invaluable insights and compassion in return.

What Does A Typical Visit Entail?

The children from Growing Places eagerly march into our Belmont Castle Care Home every week during school term times, from 10:00 to 12:00, brimming with excitement and boundless energy! Our sessions are carefully orchestrated to cater to every resident’s preference and need.

As the children trickle into our activity room and lounge, laughter and chatter fill the air. Some residents prefer to spend time in their own rooms, so we make sure to include room visits, so everyone feels included and cherished.

The session unfolds in three delightful acts. First, the children and residents dive into a shared activity whether it’s painting masterpieces or building Lego towers. Then it’s time for a well-deserved break, where tea, cake, and juice flow freely to allow the residents to sit and chat with the children and connect.

After replenishing our spirits, we dive back into the fun with more activities. From playing games and sing-alongs to story readings and impromptu dance parties. There is never a dull moment!

As the session draws to a close, we embark on room visits, honouring the wishes of residents who prefer the comfort of their own space, ensuring no bond goes unforged.

In the warmer weather, we take our adventures outdoors to indulge in garden games and green-fingered pursuits. And of course, no outdoor escapade is complete without a delightful refreshment break.

Witnessing the transformative power of these interactions is awe-inspiring. Even residents who usually prefer not to join group activities are often enticed out of their rooms by the special bond they have forged with their pint-sized companions.

Beyond the structured sessions, our creativity knows no bounds. Other activities include:

  • Baking
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Singing
  • Dancing
  • Building with play dough
  • Board Games
  • Reading stories
  • Basketball
  • Light Exercising

Every moment is an opportunity for connection and joy.

And as we look to the future, our horizons expand even further. Plans are underway for exciting outings beyond the confines of our home, from picnics in the park to adventures at the local farm and visits to local garden centres.

Stand Out Events And Moments Of Joy

There have been so many special memories that have come out of the visits from Morelands. Here are a few of our favourites:

Once upon a visit to our castle-like home, the children were completely taken by its grand beauty. They loved exploring every corner, letting their imaginations run wild.

After a few visits, one of them asked eagerly, “Where’s the princess?” Their innocent question made us all smile and got us all thinking about planning something special for their next visit to us.

Jemima, one of our staff, happily agreed to play the part of the princess. Dressed in shimmering attire, she waited for the children to arrive, ready to make their day magical.

When the kiddies walked through the front door, there stood Princess Jemima, and they believed she was a real princess living in our castle. The next time they came, we explained that Princess Jemima was actually here to help us take care of their special friends – the residents of our castle.

During one of our visits, we welcomed the students into the castle and explained that the residents – whom they affectionately call their special friends – were just wrapping up their morning meal. Inquisitive minds naturally prompted one child to inquire, ‘What’s for breakfast?’

Inspired by the spirit of companionship and camaraderie, we invited the children to join our residents for breakfast the following week.

Our talented chef stepped into action, taking orders from both young and old alike. As plates brimmed with culinary delights, the residents and children came together around the breakfast table, their laughter and chatter created joyous interaction.

For our residents, this communal dining experience offered a rare opportunity to savour their meals in the company of others—a simple yet deeply cherished pleasure often taken for granted.

Last year, we kicked off the holiday spirit with an early Christmas party, ensuring that both our residents and the visiting children from Growing Places could revel in the magic of the season before the winter term came to a close.

Mother Christmas herself graced our gathering, bearing gifts from the families and teachers of Growing Places for our residents, and in turn, delivering presents from Belmont to the children. It was a heartwarming exchange that perfectly symbolised the spirit of giving and the true essence of Christmas.

Throughout the day, presents were swapped, Christmas-themed activities delighted young and old alike, and a Christmas carol service was enjoyed. The highlight of the festivities was undoubtedly the Christmas dinner.

As the day came to a close, we said goodbye to our sleepy residents, their hearts filled with the magic of the season and their spirits lifted by the love and friendship they shared with our young visitors.

During one of our spring visits that took place in our garden space, a young boy called Oscar shared that he “would not be returning to Belmont again”. Naturally, we inquired whether he was moving homes or schools. But, with a determined expression, he proudly declared, “No, I’m graduating to big school!” His words resonated with both pride and excitement, marking a significant milestone in his young life.

Inspired by Oscar’s revelation, we decided to host a graduation day at the home for the young students to celebrate their transition from nursery to their first ‘big’ school. Realising that this would be the final meeting between our residents and this cohort of children, and understanding the unique bond they had formed, we made a deliberate effort to create a day filled with joy. Our aim was to shield both the children and our residents from any feelings of sadness.

We transformed our home into a scene reminiscent of a real graduation ceremony. Each student received a handmade graduation cap, complete with ‘diploma’ adorned with a ribbon, symbolising their journey and accomplishments, along with a gift.

After the ‘ceremony’ the festivities commenced! We enjoyed fun and games throughout the morning, singing and dancing and moments of join in the lounge. The crowing moment arrived with a special graduation buffet prepared by our talented chef – a fitting finale to a morning filled with cherished memories.

We were so sad to say farewell to some of our regular student visitors, but we were excited for the promising future that awaited them and the new generation of youngsters that would be visiting our residents. The graduation provided closure and gave the residents an understanding of why some of the students will not return to see them again.

It was such a successful day that we plan to make it an annual event.

We happily accepted a kind invitation to visit Moreland’s Growing Places Nursery, bringing along six of our beloved residents, one dedicated caregiver, and two daughters of residents. We were eager to join in their festivities for King Charles’s Coronation.

Upon arrival, we were greeted with the delightful aroma of freshly brewed tea and the tantalising sight of a sumptuous cream tea spread. The nursery classrooms sparkled with patriotic flair, vibrant flags, festive banners, and balloons, setting the stage for a truly regal celebration.

We sat in the children’s class, amidst the lively chatter of the children, talking about the Coronation, its significance, and what it meant to all of us. Our residents, with a twinkle in their eyes and a wealth of experience to share, started talking about when they were young and were at school and how things were so different. Our residents revelled in the opportunity to reminisce, their hearts warmed by the genuine interest and curiosity of the children and their attentive teachers.

The residents had a lovely day and enjoyed sharing their stories with the children and their teachers. The residents really enjoyed themselves especially spending time with the children

During Easter 2023, we held a big Easter fayre at our grounds. Residents, their families, friends, the local community, students of Growing Places, their families, and teachers joined us.

We had a lovely day which was full of fun activities including beat the goalie, basketball, ping pong, Easter egg raffle, tombola, face painting, a colouring competition, and the main attraction an Easter egg hunt!

We had many visitors on the day. The residents joined in with the activities with their little visitors. It was a fantastic occasion where the families of the residents were able to meet the children who their relatives had been spending time with.

Our in-house chef Tracey supported by cooking the buffet food that was available. Sean (Tracey’s Husband) kindly volunteered and cooked the BBQ.

The star of the day was Bugsy our residential bunny (our carer Katie who dressed as the Easter bunny) who gave out Easter Eggs to all!

In every activity, in every shared moment, the bonds between generations grow stronger. We will continue to invest in intergenerational relationships, particularly between the young and old as we have seen firsthand the wonderful richness, they can bring to both parties. If you would like to find out more about our wonderful team at Belmont Castle Care Home and the integration to old project, contact us today, or why not book a visit and meet us in person.

Location contact form