Caremark brings old and young together to tackle loneliness

Intergenerational care

A Caremark home care service based in West Yorkshire is piloting a scheme aimed at bridging the gap between children and the elderly.

The Kirklees branch has held its first ‘Intergenerational Care’ session in Linthwaite, with Caremark customers and other older members of the community interacting with children aged between seven and 16.

The children, from Linthwaite Clough Infant and Junior School and Colne Valley High School, spent around two hours talking to the older guests about their lives and asking questions about their childhoods.

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The idea for the project came from Leah Gledhill, care manager at Caremark Kirklees.

She said: “Many of our clients live alone with no local support network which can leave them alone and socially isolated.

“By holding intergenerational sessions, we want to help combat loneliness among older people, give some comfort to those nearing the end of their lives and provide stimulation to people with dementia and other disabilities.

“The first session went really well, and we are now hoping to make this a regular event once the schools return from September.”

Intergenerational care is thought to have started in Japan in 1976, but is still a relatively new phenomenon in the UK.

A big boost for the publicity of intergenerational care came from Channel 4’s show Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds. This two-part documentary documented the impact of introducing a pre-school class to a group of older people.

Studies claim that this kind of care helps language development and improves social skills in children, and older people are less likely to suffer loneliness through regular interaction with the younger generation.

One study by the University of Kent found that intergenerational care can even delay mental decline and lower blood pressure.

One of the Caremark customers who attended the event was Alan Matthews, who said: “I am normally on my own, so I loved speaking to the children and finding out about their lives and telling them about mine. I was really happy.”

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Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke

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