Old and young united in pioneering Shropshire care group
Old and young generations have been brought together by a care provider in what they believe is the first group of its kind in Shropshire.
Agape Homecare Ltd, based in Shrewsbury, collaborated with the headteacher at St. Mary's Primary School in Shawbury to create an 'intergenerational' playgroup with nursery age children from the school and a number of the care provider's clients.
Siobhan Owen, owner of Agape care, said she got the idea from Channel 4's 'Old People's Home for 4 Year Olds' which saw a nursery opened up at a retirement village, to show how the old and young interact, and how they can learn from and help each other.
She said the playgroups have been an experiment, and she has been blown away by the results, considering she bought along some clients with varying levels of dementia and Alzheimer's.
"We knew it would be a risk, not for health and safety reasons, but in terms of it working well and people interacting and being positive," Siobhan said.
"It was a big step for us to decide to bring people so far along on their dementia journeys and I am not entirely sure that it has been done this way before. Certainly not locally anyway."
One of Siobhan's home care clients lives with very advanced dementia and struggles to communicate with adults, but at the playgroup, she found that when interacting with the children, the client was able to respond.
"This little boy was holding out a decoration and my client put out his hand to take it from him," she said. "His wife burst into tears."
The sessions have been fully funded by Agape, and are a joint effort with the school, and its headteacher, Guy Verling.
Siobhan said: "The children have been absolutely amazing, their sense of inclusion was wonderful to witness.
"They were able to communicate with some of our dementia clients in a way that us as adults or carers could not do.
"It is about breaking down that stigma and not being afraid of people with these conditions.
"We have lost one of our clients who attended the sessions, who had not been out of the house in decades, and I can’t explain how much the playgroup that afternoon meant to that client and to us.
"It has been an emotional rollercoaster."
The sessions are held on the last Friday of every month in Shawbury Village Hall where the group do crafts and other activities together.