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The Urgent Need for Intergenerational Care

Intergenerational care is on the rise, and is increasingly gaining attention as a way to bring the elderly and young together. Both in the UK and abroad, there are inspiring examples of homes where such collaboration is underway, and where the opportunity to interact and play together is putting smiles on the faces of those at both ends of the age spectrum. This is something that we must encourage and foster through intergenerational care initiatives in care homes, starting from now.

Take the Home Meadow home in Cambridge, which has been welcoming seven children, aged one to four, on a weekly basis. The visit of these young children has been voted the residents’ ‘highlight of the week’, offering the chance to join together in dance, arts and crafts and singing activities.

Spending time with children brings joy and happiness to residents, and allows them to form a close bond that they cherish. Residents are given the opportunity to partake in regular physical activity, enjoy fun games and laughter, and gain a renewed sense of self-worth. The benefits for children are undoubtable, too. Through the attention that they receive, their confidence can grow, and they can grow up appreciating elderly people. Children also get to learn about the normal ageing process, and adopt an accepting attitude towards those living with a disability.

These positives for children are supported by Nia Williams, child psychologist at Bangor University. She oversaw a TV experiment in Wales in which young people spent time with people living in care homes, and found that children reacted very well to mixing with residents, and grew in independence over the course of the experiment.

Beyond the UK, examples of intergenerational collaborations abound. The Intergenerational Learning Centre (ILC) is an award-winning childcare programme in Seattle, USA, allowing children and residents to come together on five days per week for music, art, storytelling and more.

Singapore, too, is engaging in similar care-based innovations. Over the next 10 years, a £1.69 billion national plan will see childcare facilities and senior centres co-located through new projects. Existing care homes are being encouraged to develop intergenerational initiatives by the Singaporean government, too.

As well as the benefits for both the young and old, there are also economic imperatives for encouraging more intergenerational care homes. With nurseries and care homes struggling for funding, being an intergenerational facility offers a unique selling point for care providers, and will allow maintenance and staff costs to be reduced. Head office activities including human resources, marketing, PR and administration can be shared.     

It is therefore crucial that we push for the establishment of intergenerational care homes here in the UK. Though we can already draw great hope from examples such as Home Meadow in Cambridge, there are currently no companies in this country which combine young and elderly care on a permanent basis.

The need for us to ensure this happens is based on the happiness, self-worth and personal development that intergenerational care offers for both the young and the old, as well as the economic fragilities of current care home funding. There is a plethora of international examples that we must take inspiration from in achieving this vital aim.

The Urgent Need for Intergenerational Care

Davina Ludlow, Director of and

August LTD
Grahame Gardner
Mr Trax Curtain & Blind Solutions
Inspired Inspirations
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