In her latest column on parenting issues VICKI COCKERILL, from Dereham, looks at the special relationship between children and care home residents…
We have all no doubt seen and enjoyed watching Channel 4’s program where preschool children go into a care home and interact and forge relationships with its older residents.
The younger and older generations really do benefit from the company of one another and at this time of year, it is that much more important to ensure that no one feels lonely at Christmas.
The program inspired Scarning Little Owls to approach the local care home at Eckling Grange, in Dereham, to set up an introductory visit by taking four children from each setting as a pilot for future regular visits.
The eight children were already in very high spirits from getting out of the nursery and travelling in the nursery cars!
Managers, directors, and key (and familiar) staff members were all present and began their visit by taking their coats off and introducing the idea to the children of what they will do next before they entered the main room where the residents were eagerly awaiting their arrival.
Not to be put off by fifty or so residents the children all began to quickly wander round the room immersing themselves in their new environment and talking to everyone.
Accompanied by staff members they began to read Christmas books with the residents, and talk soon turned to what everyone wanted for Christmas and telling each other about their families.
The residents enjoyed interacting with the children, and the children took round some lovely home made salt dough decorations and Christmas cards for everyone too.
The staff members made sure that the children spent time with everyone to make sure no one felt left out.
Soon song sheets and instruments were distributed amongst residents and children and everyone thoroughly enjoyed singing Christmas songs which the children had been practising beforehand.
A resident then asked if they could sing to the children Away In a Manger and the children soon joined in which made nearly everyone in the room share an emotional tear or two.
This was the first visit to test the water to see how the children and residents would enjoy the experience and I think it can be said it was a resounding success.
With such a positive first visit under their belts more visits are currently being discussed for more Barn Owl children, (visit) from Little Owls, to visit each half term such as sports days, Easter egg hunts and other themed visits being planned.
Justine, the director of Little Owls, couldn’t have put it better when she reflected on the visit. She said: “At Christmas everyone is in such a frenzy with both food and retail shopping and this visit has really brought home the true meaning of Christmas. It’s not what gifts we have under the tree, or have we got the pickles, jams etcetera, it’s morning like this which bring the true essence of Christmas home.”
I think this is just the start of an amazing relationship between Little Owls and the residents of Eckling Grange Care Home.
Vicki Cockerill is a freelance content writer and NICU/CHD mum to two boys. She authors The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum blog.