The idea for an intergenerational kitchen arose from findings and participant feedback from the Copa project – Recipe for Life – which explored supports and barriers to eating well for housebound older people who lived alone. In 2008 a project was undertaken to explore snack ideas with a care home, lunch club and two high schools in East Lothian (Fa’side Lodge, The Hollies, Musselburgh Grammar and Ross High School).
The project provided a platform to involve older and younger groups in activities around food, supporting older people to maintain an interest in food and to share their knowledge and skills with younger people, whilst raising awareness of nutrition in later life. The project culminated in an afternoon tea, bringing project participants together to share conversation and enjoy food prepared by the pupils. A snack recipe booklet was developed from the work of the project.
Benefits for the Community
The project, as a platform for interaction between generations, offers opportunities to challenge stereotypes and attitudes regarding older and younger people. The project presented a planned and organised activity, supporting community links and partnership working. A lasting benefit was that links between the schools and the older peoples groups continued after the project.
Benefits for the Younger People
As part of this project, the younger people learned new skills, such as interpersonal skills, nutritional knowledge, especially the nutritional needs of older adults and history lessons that will be valuable later in life. They also gained a sense of understanding and respect for older people:“It made me think that in these days we do nothing for ourselves and when they were young they cooked, washed and cleaned.”
Benefits for the Older People
The older participants enjoyed the interaction with the younger people and the time spent together dispelled previous misconceptions: “Youth today are often all classified as the same. The group of children we met were polite, interesting, interested in us, able to converse well, a credit to their school and parents. Thank you to them from us all.”
It also increased the older people’s self-esteem as this participant explains: “One girl was telling me that she wanted to be a chef……….As my husband was a master chef I told her about what the standards were back then and what they are now. I felt good about been able to convey useful information to her. I felt like I taught someone else something – It works both ways”
“Links were made for us and arrangements not left for the teacher, which often is the case.”
“Encouraged that I got an opportunity to work with other professionals in this way and community.”
“Pupils learned about how ageing impacts on eating, for example through changes to taste and smell and the impact on appetite, tooth loss and dentures and an older person’s ability to chew, and long term conditions such as arthritis, stroke and dementia that affects physical and mental ability.”
Overall, we learned the importance of timing, advance planning and fitting in with the curriculum. Secondary schools have timetables planned well in advance. When working in partnerships it is important to initiate discussions and begin planning before the beginning of the next academic year or at least early in the new academic calendar e.g., April to end of June. Often the best time to undertake projects with secondary schools is at the end of May or beginning of June, before the new timetable is in place after the exams. Also the demands of the school curricula and calendar can limit a teacher’s ability to take advantage of additional opportunities. Therefore advance planning and discussion are important.
When working with schools, the project activity needs to fit with the school curriculum and the lesson plans devised by teachers. Also many projects will satisfy more than one area of the curriculum. The intergenerational kitchen not only covered nutrition but social cohesion, citizenship and planning.
Additionally, when working with frailer older adults allow enough time for activities, getting to and from the venue, support while at the venue and, if possible, offer to cover cost of transport. Remember to let everyone have a copy of the final report and any booklets produced. We encouraged the groups to keep in touch and they have done so through school activities and as part of their course work.
This project contributes to the Scottish National Performance Framework (NPF):
Scottish NPF Objectives
The main NPF objective that this project contributes to is:
- Healthier will enable people to live longer and healthier lives.
These NPF objectives could also apply:
- Wealthier and Fairer will support activities that address inequalities and enhance skills, employability and job opportunities. It builds on the characteristics of solidarity, cohesion and sustainability to ensure that all of Scotland has an opportunity to flourish.
- Smarter* will focus on improving literacy, numeracy and attainment and on raising and realising ambition for all.
Scottish NPF Outcomes
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 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