Cornelia Heights were delighted to be asked by Independent Arts, an Isle of Wight charity if we could take part in another project following the success of a previous one held back in 2016.

Our residents have enjoyed regular weekly visits from Mrs Cooper and her class from Dover Park Primary School in Ryde where they have participated in a carefully devised creative programme, put together by Kerry Tindall, workshop co-ordinator from Independent Arts.

Residents and children had worked together on an indoor garden and successfully grew some vegetables which they enjoyed as part of lunch on the last day of the project.

Mr H’s participation and lead with gardening has been extraordinary, he talks about the garden all the time, ‘I absolutely love it out here, I love having my hands on a garden again, I am out here all the time, I’ve nearly worn out the bottom of my walker coming in and out to the plants. I’ve even been right down to the bottom of the garden; I spotted some old canes I thought we could use to tie up the beans

Every Friday, both residents and children would form a mixture of 4-5 groups and take part in a specific activity such as Art, Music, Poetry and Makaton sign language. Once the ‘lesson’ had finished, the class would break for a short period and participate in some stretching and movement sessions. This is very popular with both the residents and children and is an inclusive activity for all. It is nice to see residents who have physiological challenges participating in this activity just by following simple hand and arm exercises.

Both residents and children sat together whilst having lunch, by week 4, you could see the friendships beginning to grow and conversation was being initiated by the children whereas previously it had tended to be the residents. The exchanging of stories over lunch between the two generations was so nice to listen too. Both Mr H & Mrs PW spoke about their memories of school and having to walk home each day for lunch, much to the amusement of the children.

I have had the pleasure of getting involved in the gardening myself and it is nice to see intergenerational interaction being encouraged, especially for those living with dementia. Mrs C lives with very progressed dementia and her ability to interact is very limited, as the weeks progressed she has become more talkative, cognitive and able. Mrs C was more comfortable with initiating conversation and participated in a group conversation. Mrs PW & Mrs F who both live with memory and cognitive problems particularly enjoyed singing along in the music lessons.

The children bring energy to the home and it is lovely to see the excitement on resident’s faces and body language when they are told the children are coming today. It also benefits our residents as this improves health, learning and mutual understanding for all involved. Towards the end of the project, children were more comfortable with helping residents

Feedback we have from our resident's is very positive all round.

Mr H said “You don’t feel old when you are around children
Mrs A said “I look forward to Friday

It is nice to observe interaction and happiness and you could visibly see the growing connection between the two generations as they shared activities and experiences. I feel this experience also helps children to have more of an understanding of the elderly and those living with dementia. Plans are to set up a pen pal scheme once the project has finished in order for the connection to continue.

I would definitely recommend other care homes to get in contact with their local schools in order to experience this. If you have an activities coordinator, get them to visit schools and put it to them. It is a simple idea but with great results.