Anam Cara


Anam Cara means ‘soul friend’ in Gaelic. In the old Celtic tradition the Anam Cara was someone you could share your innermost self, mind and heart with. The Anam Cara Centre provides a short-stay respite service within a residential setting. Their service is available to individuals (guests) who have a diagnosis or probable diagnosis of dementia. Guests can stay for a minimum period of 24 hours, the length of stay is dependent on the circumstances of admission.

The participants of the intergenerational project enjoy a variety of activities together including games for example parachute games, signing and playing musical instruments.


Ten children aged 3 -5 years from St. Bridget’s Early Years Centre (EYC) visit residents of Anam Cara aged 55 – 98 every second Thursday for two hours.


Activities are often organised around special calendar dates like Rabbie Burns, Easter, Mother/Father’s day involving crafts, songs, poems, and games. If there is no special date then they participate in a range of activities usually starting with parachute games or boccia or the giant dominoes which gets everyone up and moving. Afterwards they move to singing and music as there are usually guests who can play a musical instrument and the children love to accompany them on tambourines, drums or singing along. Participants enjoy a variety of old and new songs, ones with actions go down well and cause great hilarity. During the session all the staff from Anam Cara join in.

Benefits for the Community

  • Friendships are established
  • Stereotypes are broken
  • Care and compassion for each other grow
  • People with dementia feel more included in their community

Anam Cara staff and residents are invited to school events and there is a feeling that the community accepts them more readily as a result of the project.

Benefits for the Younger People

  • Feeling more comfortable around older people with dementia
  • Learning new skills and activities from the older generation
  • Increased feeling of happiness when they are able to teach the older generation their skills
  • Fun and laughter

Benefits for the Older People

  • Increased mobility and flexibility which always reduces the incidence of falls
  • Increased incidences of laughter and singing which benefits people’s wellbeing
  • Revives old skills e.g. playing a musical instrument, knitting, and other crafts
  • Learning new skills e.g. computer games
  • Fun and laughter as a result of having children in their lives.


Funding is sourced through the Anam Cara comfort fund.


  • The project is evaluated through the person with dementia’s activity, feedback sheets and comments made immediately following the children’s visits.
  • There is photographic evidence of the animation, enjoyment and physical activities during the children’s visit.
  • Additionally, we have seen carers of people with dementia arranging their respite dates to coincide with our intergenerational activities as they feel it benefits the project.


Senior managers have indicated an interest in rolling intergenerational activities out to other units within the Partnership.

Local Priorities

This project meets the Anam Cara strategic plan by improving mental health and wellbeing, bringing services together and involving the integration of EYC. Research has also proven that children’s future development is improved by attending EYCs.

Intergenerational activities involving people with dementia contributes to us being healthier, nurtured and builds stronger community links through inclusion. This specialised respite for people with dementia offering intergenerational activities contributes to our national dementia strategy in increasing people’s wellbeing and creating a dementia friendly community.

Scottish NPF Outcomes

HEALTHIER – helping people to sustain and improve their health, especially in disadvantaged communities, ensuring better, local and faster access to health care.If this project was based in Scotland it would meet the healthier and fairer Scotland.

SMARTER – Expanding opportunities to succeed from nurture through to lifelong learning ensuring higher and more widely shared achievements.

SAFER and STRONGER – Helping local communities to flourish, becoming stronger, safer places to live and offering improved opportunities and a better quality of life.

This project would also contribute to the Scottish National Performance Framework (NPF).

We live longer, healthier lives: Securing longer healthier lives for the people of Scotland will always be a top priority for governments and individuals alike. There are significant challenges which can only be addressed by everyone in Scotland working together, pursuing this goal through improving lifestyles and life circumstances, and a shared ownership of an effective NHS.

Our people are able to maintain their independence as they get older and are able to access appropriate support when they need it.

Our young people are successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens: To enable children, young people and (subsequently) adults to thrive from an early age, and make a positive contribution in the 21st century.