Loneliness and social isolation in our older generation is now only too common here in the UK, with The Guardian reporting last month that over three quarters of our older people are lonely. These are staggering figures and here at Pebbles Childcare, we value and respect our older generation profusely and as a result we are keen to do our bit to try and eradicate social isolation and loneliness for the elderly in our locality.
As a setting, we are always keen to be involved in local projects and helping the community; recently collecting donations for the animals at the RSPCA in Brighton, arranging a charity “Toddle Waddle” for Barnados, collecting food to donate to the homeless, in addition to spending time with older volunteers at the local Salvation Army to organise and set up food parcels for local community projects. It was during this visit to the Salvation Army we noticed how confident and engaged the children were as they interacted with the older volunteers.
As a result, we arranged to visit Chloe’s elderly great-grandmother in order to try and eradicate these feelings of loneliness that are sadly only too common in our elderly today. “Nanny Beat” as the children affectionately call her is ninety-five and suffers with Alzheimers.
Each time we visit Nanny Beat, we take something to make her smile, whether it be flowers, chocolates or a picture we’ve made. We have our morning snack with Nanny Beat and tell her about our week so far, sharing favourite songs and playing games too as well as using props and items in the flat to engage in role-play with Nanny Beat too!
Through our visits to Nanny Beat, the children are developing their understanding and awareness of others and their needs and watching first-hand how patient, affectionate and caring the children are towards her is truly heartwarming, especially as the children instantly developed the confidence to hold hands and cuddle Nanny Beat each time they arrive and leave.
Similarly, the change in Nanny Beat when the children are present is phenomenal; she is happy, talkative and affectionate, and incredibly remembers significant features about each child every time we visit.
We also take the children on a weekly basis to visit Bridgit’s parents. Both retired now for a number of years, Keith has a large garden with an established vegetable plot that during their visits, the children tend to under “Nut’s” close supervision. The children have built a strong relationship with B’s parents, which our families have commented on saying “something that was important for me was to know that my child was part of a family as an extension of our own”.
Providing children with the opportunity to engage and interact with the older generation is so beneficial for both parties and something that we believe every Early Years setting should aim to do at some point.
If you’d like to read more about our visits to Nanny Beat, please check out our interview with PACEY where we discuss how we implemented these visits into our routines: