Real Lives

Become a Care Home Friend

Schools across England are being encouraged to become Care Home Friends in a new scheme to bring together children and older people living in care homes.

‘Become a Care Home Friend’ is a 10-week challenge that offers schools a programme of activities to foster understanding about older generations, raise awareness of care homes and build community links.

The challenge has been created by Care Home Friends and Neighbours (Care Home FaNs): Intergenerational Linking – England’s biggest intergenerational project connecting young people with older people living in care homes. The project is a partnership from organisations My Home Life England and The Linking Network, and is now reaching out to get more children involved. The project is funded by Dunhill Medical Trust and the #iwill Fund (a £54 million joint investment between The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport).

“Both older people and children can get so much out of a relationship with each other, but their contact with each other can be very be limited,” said Tom Owen, Director of My Home Life England, which promotes quality of life for people living, visiting and working in care homes.

“Grandparents often don’t live down the road like they might have in previous years, and children are infrequent visitors to care homes, especially in recent years because of the pandemic.  Intergenerational work can boost children’s self-esteem, broaden their world view and improve empathy and understanding of others. Equally, feeling part of the community is very much key to quality of life for people living in care homes and intergenerational work helps make this happen.

“We’ve seen so much joy, fun and energy in all our local projects and we wanted to spread this further and make more connections. This led to the creation of our Become a Care Home Friend Challenge!”

The challenge is aimed at children aged 5-14 and activities are geared towards Key Stages 1, 2 and 3.  It starts at the beginning of Global Intergenerational Week on Monday 25th April and runs through 10 weeks to Care Home Open Week. The worksheets are developed by teachers and are issued weekly, offering schools regular activities to build into the curriculum.  They include thinking about different generations and the achievements of older people, an introduction to care homes and the people who live and work there, as well as a postcard exchange and making small gifts.

“This is a brilliant opportunity for more children across England to get involved in social action and make a positive difference in their communities”, said Linda Cowie, Director of The Linking Network.

“We give schools information about how make contact with their local care home and we’ve put together activities that are engaging and fun, supporting children to think more about different generations and create something special for a nearby care home. We’d love for more children to join our network of Care Home Friends!”

Care Home Friends and Neighbours: Intergenerational Linking combines My Home Life England’s expertise with older people and care homes with The Linking Network’s expertise with young people and schools and their successful Schools Linking programme. It’s currently creating intergenerational links between schools, youth groups and care homes in 11 areas of England, and this challenge takes things one step further.

Aire View Care Home in Leeds have been benefitting from connecting with nearby Whitecote Primary School.  Karen Grainger, Wellbeing and Activities Co-ordinator at Aire View said:

“This intergenerational linking project has given Aire View residents absolute joy! They can’t believe young children want to learn about them, and are delighted when they get cards and questions from them. We would really encourage more schools to be involved through the “Become a Care Home Friend” challenge.”

Signing up to the Become a Care Home Friend challenge is free.  Visit https://myhomelife.org.uk/challenge to register.

 

Edel Harris

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