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We are often told to value all ages in our communities, from the very young to the very old. It is said that developing connections between older adults and the youngest members of the community can have wonderful benefits for both generations.
Children at Beckett Hall Day Nursery have been doing just that, sharing stories, telling jokes and singing songs with residents at Osbourne Court Care Home.
The touching moments have since featured on BBC’s 'The One Show' and warmed the heart of the nation.
'Filling the gaps in their lives'
Chantelle Braford, deputy manager at Four Season’s Osborne Court, said: "People living in the home and the children really enjoy their time together. The residents are always pleased to see the children and talk about the visits for days afterwards. It is heart-warming to see how they interact so well together.
"Some of our residents are grandparents, but others have no family able to visit them so the children have a special place in their lives. The children bring them out of themselves and they become happier and more engaged. Similarly, not all the children who come here have grandparents of their own so the residents fill that gap in their lives.
"One little boy who has been coming here has become really fond of one resident, so much so that his parents have asked if he could still be brought to visit when he moves up from the nursery group."
Interacting with people from different stages of life
Social isolation has always been a concern for nursery manager Lynsey Elliott, who says that "like children, older people can be vulnerable and life can be lonely," particularly if care homes are overstretched and if residents have no family or friends to visit them.
She said: "The relationship between the two generations is lovely. The children thrive on the one-to-one feedback and praise from the residents, and seeing their happy faces is priceless. In a society where an online presence is surpassing our physical interaction with others, older generations are finding themselves even more isolated, and at times, we forget how to interact in general with people from different walks and stages of life.
"I feel it’s important to encourage these early relationships so children are able to build an inherent respect for others and celebrate their differences.”
The intergenerational visits are now an important part of Beckett Hall Day Nursery’s routine. Twice a month, the children can be found participating in a range of activities with the residents including arts and crafts, baking, singing and dancing.
'Fears surrounding residences appearances'
Since the visits began, the children's understanding of the differences between themselves and others has increased greatly, as has their understanding of the world.
"The children are now talking to each other about their experiences and have learned to adapt to their environment; understanding that some places and people require a quieter voice, but for others need you to speak a little louder when ears aren’t working so well," said Ms Elliott.
"The children’s learning experiences have also been observed in their role play. We can often hear the children pretending to be an old lady, saying ‘show me closer, I can’t see very well anymore,’ and ‘let me get my glasses.'"
Residents at Osbourne Court Care Home have thoroughly enjoyed welcoming their special guests over the past couple of months.
Four-year-old Harvey, who attends the Bristol nursery, said the visits to the home make him happy, while Florence, also aged four, can’t wait to take her dresses to "show the old people."
Sarah, a parent of a child who attends Beckett Hall Day Nursery wrote a review on the leading day nurseries reviews website, daynurseries.co.uk, saying: "My daughter is now two and a half but has been attending Becket Hall since she was about eight months. I think the best thing about Becket Hall is the staff. I feel confident and happy leaving my daughter with them, the atmosphere is always very positive and staff really do listen if you have any concerns or questions. I like that I get to see photos of what my daughter is up to, often making something fun."
• The reviews of nurseries on daynurseries.co.uk help parents and carers to choose a setting that is right for their child. daynurseries.co.uk currently has over 31,000 reviews of day nurseries and nursery schools.