A nursing home in the south of London has transformed into a playful, energetic, space thanks to the inclusion of an unexpected demographic for an aged care facility.
Like many nursing homes, the 200 residents of Nightingale House (whose average age is 90) regularly attend physical therapy sessions, however, at Nightingale, the residents are also treated to a daily visit from children aged between two and three years old.
The children who visit during the physical therapy sessions attend Nightingale’s onsite nursery, which opened last year. Both the young and old residents of the intergenerational care facility have access to activities such as baking, gardening, art, and exercise through an innovative program.
The program’s aim was to promote intergenerational relationships, but it has proved to have many unexpected benefits.
The program has seen a sharp decline in resident loneliness, improved physical health, and similar programs run in other countries have even a longer average lifespan for their elderly participants.
The structure of the program encourages the elderly to move about the facility to participate in activities or spend time with children. Staff at the facility say that the residents often forget their own physical limitations, stretching, moving and engaging in conversation with the young children.
The program has huge benefits for the kids too, as the elderly people engage different parts of their developing brains, and encourage more well rounded and balanced social interactions.
Judith Horowitz, the co-founder of the program at Nightingale, believes that care should be provided to all people in this way, and that traditional care institutions have created an “age apartheid”.