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Old People’s Home for four year olds- a breakthrough TV documentary

17th August 2017

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

The co habitation of older and younger generations is not a new concept, as the US has long understood the positive impact younger children can have on lonely and isolated adults. One Intergenerational Learning Centre in Seattle now enjoys a two-year waiting list of parents who wish their children to be part of the project.

The documentary, which recently aired on Channel 4, is about more than exploring the positive effects of such a scenario, it is looking instead, to change our expectations – of both generations. The atmosphere in St Monica’s Retirement Home in Bristol before their young playmates arrive is dismissive, with many residents not believing the experiment will work. Before the introduction of the youngsters, all the residents are tested both mentally and physically, with high rates of depression and loneliness found. 

 

As soon as the younger members join, the atmosphere instantly changes. Many of the older residents suffered with limited mobility, one even uses a prosthetic leg. This leaves many of them disheartened that they won’t be able to interact and play with the youngsters. Though new curved stairlifts may have improved mobility throughout the care home, they still worry about ‘rolling around the floor or kicking a ball’.

The reality is very different. This two-part documentary is both heart-warming and enlightening as you watch the older adults bond with four-year olds over a period of six weeks. The children, in their forthright manner are quick to declare their favourites within the group, whereas the older members slowly come to crave not only the positivity but also the tactility the children offer. One of the experts from the show are quick to point out that simple physical contact can often be one of the most missed elements as people get older :

‘It’s the sort of thing they don’t realise they have missed,’