Generations Together – Meath & Westmeath
Twenty-five Nursing Homes and Preschools across Meath and Westmeath come together to launch Generations Together
Over forty staff from nursing homes and preschools across Meath and Westmeath came together on 9th October in CareChoice Nursing Home in Trim to hear more about intergenerational learning and launch a new network to bring generations together. The idea behind the initiative is to organise regular visits by pre-school children to visit older people living in nursing homes across the region.
Ronan Moore, Social Democrats Meath West, who organised the event with Lucie Cunningham of THE HomeShare and Generations Together Ireland and Gillian McDonald of CareChoice Trim, said: “As the father of two young children myself, this idea caught my imagination. We all know how open and engaging young children are, and helping to bring their laughter and fun to nursing home residents is the goal of this project. We had over 25 organisations represented tonight and already some groups have paired up to start making these visits a reality, which is a wonderful outcome.”
Lucie Cunningham, who established Generations Together, an initiative which encourages community groups to forge relationships with their local nursing homes, said: “I have seen myself many times how intergenerational learning works. By bringing preschool children into nursing homes for weekly visits with residents to talk, sing, play games we see friendships and bonds form. It is an activity that helps improve emotional wellbeing for older people and helps children to develop language and social skills.”
Gillian McDonald, Director of Nursing at CareChoice Trim said: “This is an exciting new opportunity to bring generations together, listening to the stories from other Nursing Homes and childcare settings who have already introduced it was inspirational, and I am very excited to introduce it to CareChoice Trim.
” Eilish Balfe of Happy Days Montessori in Ratoath, who partnered with Ratoath Manor Nursing Home, shared her experiences at the event. Eilish said: “The early research on these pensioner play-dates shows the transformative power that simply being around the children has for older people. As well as the physical benefits of becoming more active in their presence, psychologically the loneliness and loss of sense of purpose that older people can experience are to some degree lessened by having contact with children and younger people. However, it is not just the older residents who benefit. The children learn to be more caring towards older people, more considerate and more understanding of the ageing process, which in turns leads to greater resilience.”
Julieanne Kelly from Gormanstown Wood Nursing Home also spoke on her experiences of bringing pre-school children to visit: “Some of our residents would have age-related illnesses such as dementia, however the children don’t allow these conditions to be a barrier and their youthful exuberance quickly sees bonds formed. It has become one of the highlights of the week for both groups involved and something that parents and relatives have found hugely beneficial.”
To help those who might like to introduce this initiative into nursing homes or pre-school, a Facebook group ‘Generations Together Meath & Westmeath’ has been established. For further information, please contact Ronan on 085-2307682 or Lucie at 086-4126381.