Intergenerational care began in 1976 when Shimada Masaharu merged a nursery school and care home in Tokyo with great success and then spread to the US, Canada and the Netherlands.
It is yet to become mainstream practice. However, in mid 2017 the first dedicated nursery and care home in the UK, Apples and Honey Nightingale, was set up in Wandsworth, Southwest London, in mid-2017 and since then a further 40 have been created.
Recently a public boost was made for intergenerational care by publicising it on Channel 4’s show ‘Old people’s home for 4 year olds’ where young children were introduced to a group of elderly people. The programme got a lot of praise and with the amount of old people who are facing loneliness and boredom the show proposed a solution to this problem.
A volunteer from the programme called Zena, aged 77, perfectly summed up the experience by saying this:
“The most important thing in life is to be loved, and children have such a pure and positive love. To find a child’s hand in yours is one of the most moving things that can happen to you.” (Ageukmobility.co.uk, 2018)
Although we have only so far spoken about young children being used to improve the well-being of the elderly, introducing older students can also be beneficial. One home that has introduced this idea is Humanitas Deventer, in the Netherlands. This home is like no other because amongst the old people living there, are 6 students. Best of all, the young people get to live rent free as long as they provide 30 hours a month of time to “hang out” with the elderly. A lot of the residents there are widowed and when the CEO realised that they were bored and lonely she introduced the idea of allowing students to live there with them. The feedback below from one of the residents is proof this is working:
“Young people lift us up. I’m not -depressed but I definitely feel better when they’re around. It gives me better health and a lot of energy. Young people and old people never usually get the chance to meet. But when we do, it takes just five minutes before we realise how similar we are. Our relationship is very easy. Students should be available for everybody over the age of 60 – we’re proof that the system really works.” (Danby, 2019)
There have been various experiments conducted where intergenerational care has been introduced and overall they show positive effects for both young and old.
It can reduce depression and isolation in the older generation. It can also help with greater mobility and physical skills. For the children, it helps them develop empathy and their language and communication skills.
If intergenerational care interests you there are plenty of facilities across the UK and around the world that you can get in contact with.
Ageukmobility.co.uk. (2018). How care homes and nurseries are coming together for good. [online] Available at: https://www.ageukmobility.co.uk/mobility-news/article/intergenerational-care [Accessed 15 Oct. 2019].
Danby, P. (2019). Old people’s home has cocktail bar, paddling pool and students live there. [online] mirror. Available at: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/old-peoples-home-cocktail-bar-20029933 [Accessed 15 Oct. 2019].