Barton & St. Marychurch Childminders Making Bridges with Music…

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a blog by Nicola Hobson…

I cannot think of a more inspirational project to write about!

DCF helped Barton & St. Marychurch Childminders pilot a project, through music, to bring children into a care home. This helped to link the care home with the community as parents of the children also visited to watch a performance. This gave members of the community a better understanding of residential care, helping to break down barriers and make residents feel less isolated.

The project enriched and improved residents social, physical and emotional well-being. They shared stories with the children about their lives and they made friends with the children and their child-minders, with some children developing very special friendships with residents, which have continued.

The pilot session was said to be joyous, particularly watching those with dementia engage meaningfully with a child through music, if only for a moment in time. I have seen this for myself at the Memory Cafe I help to run in my local town. When children are on holiday we have several come along with their volunteer parents / grandparents. The mood is transformed and the atmosphere up-lifting. And the kids love it – they practice their reading skills and one young lad wanted to read a story in front of the whole group.

I have been glued to the telly watching Channel 4’s Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds and have watched both series in awe of both the children and the older people, and their ability to react with each other without preconception or prejudice. These children are interacting with people who are 20 times their age!

The Barton & St. Marychurch Childminders project has benefitted the residents, making them feel listened to and valued, increasing their confidence and self-worth. For the children it has fostered acceptance, empathy and inclusion. This sort of exposure to different groups of people will surely raise a new generation of people who value a diverse community. This experience has obviously benefited both the residents and the children as the children continue to visit all three care homes with their child-minders so that they can engage in activities with their new friends. This is so important as it could have left the residents lives seem emptier than before.

This project has inspired other care homes to develop relationships with early years providers and now in Torbay there are 20 care homes receiving visits from child-minders and nurseries. And wider still, a written evaluation has enabled Barton & St Marychurch Childminders to share the project nationally, which has been very well received.

Did you know that two thirds of old people living in care homes don’t ever receive a visitor?

I believe this is a shameful statistic. Perhaps we should all take time out to visit a care home – we might be there one day ourselves and wouldn’t it be marvellous to engage with young people. I know how much I enjoy the company of my great niece and nephew. I find their company exhilarating, if a little exhausting at times!