Every Friday a group of excited pre-school children from Bristol don their hi-vis waistcoats ready to take their walking bus down to see their friends at the Amerind Grove residential home for older people.
Last month, children from the Southville Centre nursery featured on the Channel 4 programme The Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds. Emma Morris, Lead Practitioner at the nursery, who also appeared on the programme, said that whilst the emphasis of the production team was on the beneficial outcomes for the older adults, she saw clear benefits for the children too. “After the filming finished I was keen to continue this ground-breaking community development and introduce more of our children to local older adults”.
The Southville Centre, managed by the Southville Community Development Association (SCDA), contacted Bupa Amerind Grove Care Home on Raleigh Road to discuss the idea. As a result of the really positive reaction from the staff at Amerind Grove, 12 children from the nursery now visit the care home every week. Aimee Francis, Early Years Practitioner who leads on the project along with Emma, says that the children’s social skills have definitely improved and they are becoming more confident in their interactions and more comfortable with a wider variety of sensory experiences.
The visiting project is a great example of SCDA’s ethos, as they are passionate about increasing the opportunities for interaction between all members of their community. Based on the latest research about building social confidence and self esteem in both young and older people, games and activities are co-ordinated by the Southville Centre and Amerind Grove staff.
Tim Clark, Head of Family Services at SCDA said: “At the Southville Centre we have always worked hard to ensure we provide support to local groups and the community in wide and diverse ways through running our older people’s clubs as well as our nursery provision. This project demonstrates the incredible benefits of integrating different generations and the children and older adults alike really look forward to the weekly visits.”
SCDA currently operates the award-winning Southville Centre on Beauley Road in Southville and is developing a second site on Chessel Street in Bedminster, which is due to open this November.