Moorehall Lodge Ardee has become the first nursing home in Ireland to bring pre–school children and senior citizens together to learn and have fun as part of a European intergenerational project.
The Together Old and Young (TOY) project promotes experiences where young children and older people can engage with each other and develop meaningful relationships.
Eleven boys and girls, aged three to five, from the Old School House in Ballapousta recently spent their pre-school class day with the residents of Moorehall Lodge in Ardee and both young and old thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
“It was a fantastic day,” said Moorehall Lodge care manager Natasha Bloore.
“Our residents were delighted to see the children and keen to interact with them and the youngsters were not in the least bit shy.”
Aishling Silke, principal of the Old School House Ballapousta was also delighted with how the day went.
“The children were told we are going out to meet new friends and it all went brilliantly,” said Principal Silke.
“The children were quite happy to get involved and play with their new grannies and grandads.”
The pre-school class began their day at Moorehall Lodge’s Retirement Village where children and residents did some gardening together and then painted pictures.
Next the youngsters spent time with residents of Moorehall Lodge’s nationally-acclaimed dementia-specific Suaimhneas and Setanta households, which have become the first accredited Butterfly centres in Ireland.
“The Butterfly Approach to dementia care is all about being spontaneous and living in the moment,” said Ms Bloore.
“We use visual triggers to stimulate recollections and to make emotional connections for each person.
“The children and residents played together using our rummage boxes which contain a variety of cuddly toys, jewellery, wooden spoons, farm animals and other items our residents are able to identify with and which bring back memories.
“Later children and residents enjoyed a tea party and sing-song at our Cois Abhainn house and the day ended with an exercise session at Anam Chara where young and old played ball and skittles together.
“Our staff are trained to ‘live in the moment’ and that approach ensured everyone involved enjoyed a lovely, relaxed, happy and active day,” said Ms Bloore.
Aishling Silke, whose Ballapousta pre-school has won Childhood Ireland awards for its community involvement, is presenting a report on the Moorehall Lodge visit to the Dublin Institute of Technology, co-ordinators of the EU’s TOY project in Ireland.
“They were blown-away by our wonderful experience bringing the old and the young together,” said Principal Silke.
“They aim to use it to encourage pre-schools around the country to make visiting their local nursing homes part of their activities.”