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Elderly care home visit during Loneliness Awareness Week 10 – 16 June 2024

Pre-school children from a Stockton-on-Tees nursery school visited elderly residents at nearby Woodside Grange Care Home during Loneliness Awareness Week (10 – 16 June 2024).

Ten three and four-year-olds from The Montessori People Independent Nursery School in Thornaby presented the residents with self-portraits which the children painted at nursery based on photographs supplied by the care home.

They also took part in arts and crafts and helped to serve the residents refreshments, including tasty cup-cakes made by the nursery’s in-house chef.

The youngsters are regular visitors to the nearby care home and have got to know many of the residents who look forward to chatting with them and finding out what activities they have been doing at nursery. Previous visits have included Halloween ‘trick or treat’ activities, a carol service or simply popping in to deliver cards and chocolates to the residents. The visit was especially poignant as it was the pre-schoolers last one before they move up to primary school.

The theme for this year’s Loneliness Awareness Week is ‘Random Acts of Connection’ which is designed to encourage people to increase those simple, everyday moments of connection which help us feel happier, less lonely and increase our sense of belonging.

Manager of The Montessori People, Cheryl Lambert said: “All our pre-schoolers wanted to see the residents before they move up to primary school, so we thought what better time than during Loneliness Awareness Week.

“Connecting people across different generations is hugely beneficial. Some of the older residents don’t have grandchildren and some of the children no longer have grandparents so it’s a win-win. Everyone had such a great time – the smiles on the residents’ faces say it all.”

The past and present is woven into different aspects of The Montessori People Nursery’s curriculum.  Childcare staff regularly talk to the children about families, getting older and different generations, and have a special vintage suitcase including war-time trinkets that the children can explore. If a child has a grandparent who is unwell or going into a residential home, they can borrow support books from the nursery’s lending library to discuss at home.

Manager of Woodside Grange Care Home, Barbara Parker, said: ”Many of our residents have family members who visit but some live far away or don’t get the chance to visit as often as they would like due to work commitments, so they really look forward to spending quality time with the children.

“Children bring a different vibe to the home and it’s a real pick-me-up for our residents. They love to chat to the children and often reminisce about their own life stories. The visits sometimes turn into a bit of a party with residents, staff and the children enjoying singing and dancing to their favourite songs.”

86-year-old care home resident, Maureen Hopkins, said: “I just love the children’s visits. I’ve got grandchildren myself, but they’re grown up now and they live down south, so I don’t see much of them. I’ve been feeling a bit down recently, but seeing their smiling faces has really cheered me up.”

Pictured – 4-year-old Eloise Pinchin (left) and Mary Shaw (right) from The Montessori People Nursery in Stockton join 78-year-old Irene Larsen at Woodside Grange Care Home during Loneliness Awareness Week

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