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'Lasting legacy' from TV show featuring child visits to care home

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Residents at a Bristol retirement home have seen “amazing improvements” in their mental and physical health after the setting opened its doors to a group of young children as part of a televised social experiment.

Eleven people who live at a setting run by St Monica Trust and 10 children from local pre-schools starred in the Channel 4 show Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, which was screened last week.

“We all saw the potential of this wonderful experiment for changing the way we care for older people”

David Williams

The concept was inspired by research from the US and saw the young and old volunteers share daily activities designed by a gerontologist, geriatrician and physiotherapist, who also measured the impact on older participants.

Filming for the two-part programme took place over six weeks at the trust’s Cote Lane retirement village on the Durdham Downs.

As part of the show, residents who took part spoke frankly about issues facing older people, including their struggles with depression, lack of mobility and loneliness.

However, viewers witnessed a transformation in the residents’ mental health and wellbeing simply by being around the children.

St Monica Trust, which provides a range of care services, including sheltered accommodation, nursing and dementia care, said there had been “a number of amazing improvements in the residents’ mental and physical health”.

After seeing the benefits, the organisation said it would be establishing a children’s nursery at one of its retirement communities and children’s play areas at all it sites, including an indoor play area at its newest facility.

“The trust has committed to introducing a children’s nursery at one of our retirement communities”

David Williams

St Monica Trust chief executive David Williams said the organisation was also supporting residents and children who took part in the programme to stay in touch, and regular visits were already taking place.

“When we were asked by Channel 4 to take part in this project, we all saw the potential of this wonderful experiment for changing the way we care for older people in the UK,” he said.

“To create a lasting legacy for all the great work started by this project, the trust has committed to introducing a children’s nursery at one of our retirement communities and we are already consulting about a potential partnership with a local pre-school,” said Mr Williams.

“Seeing the evidence of the positive impact of bringing these two generations together has only strengthened the trust’s desire to create open communities that actively encourage contact across different age groups,” he added.

 

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