Baby and toddler group
The story of Apples and Honey Nightingale CIC nursery is one about community and relationships built over a long period of time within a local area, between two organisations; Apples and Honey Wimbledon Nursery and Nightingale Hammerson which is a leading specialist in residential care that has been serving the Jewish community for over 175 years.
The intergenerational baby and toddler group runs weekly and takes place on Mondays in Nightingale House’s large lounge, from 10:00- 11:30 am. It is open to the public and free of charge. Parents and carers can bring children who are newborn upwards.
It is led by Apples and Honey Nurseries Principal with support from volunteers and other nursery staff. Run as a semi-structured 90-minute weekly session, the group continues even during school holidays. This means that throughout the year, older siblings are able to join in the fun, and often serve as ‘helpers’ when they attend.
There is a wide range of activities including singing and story-telling, craft or making activities however the following are the top three favourites:
- Making sandwiches together for one another, with a resident and child (with parent or carer) making them to give to each other to eat.
- Being artists and ‘drawing’ each other’s faces by using paper plates and chopped fruit and vegetables, partners look at each other’s faces and try copying them using the chopped fruit and vegetables on the table.
- Handprint painting – it’s lovely and tactile and brings back lots of different kinds of memories for residents.
Benefits for the Younger People
The children develop communication skills, friendships and learn from older people. They also find the activities fun.
Benefits for the Older People
Improved wellbeing and mobility were part of the aims of the project for older people, but the key part was connecting generations together. The project organisers have also noticed that the older participants with dementia blossomed in the company of children.
Benefits for the Community
Through this project Apples and Honey Nursery hoped to connect younger and older people together. It aimed to bring together communities, to tackle loneliness and to create friendships.
We regularly collect feedback from the residents to gauge their interest in sessions and to begin to map what benefits residents feel they receive from intergenerational interaction.
In conducting in-house research, one of the themes which emerged is the extent to which the residents really look out for each other. While this affection can be seen in how residents engage with one another throughout the communal areas of the home, it is at moments like this when you hear how much they are observing each other that the depth of their connection comes out.
John, resident, 92 years’ old, shares “It is the highlight of my week. I never had children of my own and I enjoy watching the children play and playing with them. It is such a joyful experience. I forget everything else going on and I share in their joy with them. I also see the effect it has on the other residents. One gentleman who comes never speaks to anyone else at all when he is upstairs. He doesn’t speak at all. He is silent. But when he comes down here, he lights up and he does speak. He becomes himself and it makes me very happy to watch this.”
We have had specific residents champion our intergenerational work and see it equally as their cause. It does seem by creating more multi-aged activities across the home, residents are less isolated, but also enjoying having others to look after and be concerned for as well. The existing community elements of the home are somehow brought
to the forefront as a result of our intergenerational sessions. Everyone takes more responsibility for one another across all of the different age groups.
One early years teacher observed…
“One day, sitting on the floor in a circle, I began the singing session. One of our residents, Frances, has some memory loss. She really enjoys attending the group, and Frances developed a relationship with one little boy in particular. For the past several weeks, Frances has been humming along to our singing, sometimes really concentrating to try to remember the words. This day was different. Frances, suddenly came to life. Not only did she remember all of the words, she used her voice to sing them clearly and confidently. Rather than wait for a song to be chosen from the bag, Frances took over the session and began leading us all in the songs she wanted to sing. We were all delighted and enjoyed partaking in Frances’ joy that day.”
Feedback from baby and toddler participants
One of our regular attendees at our intergenerational baby and toddler group is a local childminder, who brings both the children she looks after and her own children when she has the opportunity.
“Why do I come? I look after very young children, many do not see their grandparents or elderly people because their parents may not live local to them, or even live in this country. People often fear what they do now know or are not used to, and therefore it is possible children become uninterested in the elderly because they don’t know them.
By bringing the two generations together, they share common physical challenges (eg manipulating tools such as scissors, hands and fingers are strengthened by playing with playdough, and other challenges are offered for hand and eye coordination). To see them working collaboratively to complete tasks is warming. There is mutual respect and enjoyment being in each other’s company. Elderly get to have the joy of children visiting them with the laughter and quirky moods and behaviours. Children enjoy the patience from people who are not in a rush.
The children are able to sing in Hebrew or another language, and we learn a little about the Jewish festivals and celebrations (although we are not Jewish). I enjoy the joint activities where children are encouraged to work with an elderly person or include them in their play. I have a little boy who is 27 months who enjoys ‘making’ and pouring tea for everyone. Another little boy in my care who is 30 months, is very chatty and has a favourite resident. He looks for her to greet and play with each week. I enjoy the gatherings at the home and sometimes outside the playgroup, when I can bring my own children (not just the ones I look after during the week).”
Another family expressed…
“We thought it would be a very good experience for our daughter as well as for the residents. We see how much elderly relatives love spending time with our daughter. We believe it is valuable for our little one to understand how important they are and how much she can learn from their life experiences. We think it is a valuable and rewarding experience for our daughter and the residents.”
Funding the baby and toddler group
The intergenerational baby and toddler group we began is not expensive to start up and run and has the fewest barriers to entry. We have been contacted by groups wanting to set up something similar in their local area, and we can’t recommend it enough. What it takes is a handful of people and supportive care home managers, along with a box of toys and some dedicated volunteers, to transform a neighbourhood and a care home.
For our weekly intergenerational baby and toddler group, we have four dedicated volunteers who support us.
One of our volunteers, Tim Kahn, shares his story here:
“My mum was a resident at Nightingale House for six years and I visited her at least once a week. I have hardly visited Nightingale since she died, until the baby and toddler group began. I come now because I feel comfortable with the older people. I help to bring them down to the group and love the pleasure they get from mixing with the young ones. I think it is sad that our society separates out older people and isolates them, whether in their own homes or in care homes. This project is a lovely example of the opposite, and I am glad to be involved. I have been a teacher of young children and worked in family learning, so am familiar being with young children in groups, and through my personal experience, with older people.”
The Social Enterprise intergenerational nursery
he nursery is registered as a Community Interest Company. All of its profits are by design re-invested for its social purpose; which is to provide highest quality affordable early years education with an intergenerational curriculum. In the event the nursery was to be wound down, all remaining assets
are gifted to its partner charity, Nightingale Hammerson. In addition, 20% of nursery spaces are reserved for employees
at Nightingale House, with a particular emphasis for places offered to nursing or care staff. These are provided at a significantly subsidised rate, and are a part of the social enterprise’s core ethos. The nursery strives to be an inclusive space, and works with families to make sure an early years education is affordable and accessible.
Apples and Honey Nightingale CIC operates fifty weeks of the year as a day nursery, and is closed for Jewish holidays. As a Jewish faith-based nursery, it prides itself on promoting a welcoming and nurturing environment for all of the children in its care. The nursery takes children from two years of age until they enter their reception year, and has a maximum capacity to enroll 30 children per day.
The full story
Read the full Apples and Honey Nightingale case study below.
Scottish Strategic Objectives
HEALTHIER – helping people to sustain and improve their health, especially in disadvantaged communities, ensuring better, local and faster access to health care.
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.
A project like this run in Scotland would contributes to the Scottish National Performance Framework (NPF).
Scottish NPF Outcomes
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.
We have tackled the significant inequalities in Scottish society.
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.