Profile: Intergenerational care - new perspectives from the USA
Published: 22 Nov 2017
Older people and young children would benefit hugely from co-located care, according to Lorraine George, an early years educator from Devon who has just returned from a Churchill Fellowship researching intergenerational care models in the USA.
With an ageing population and reduced government funding for both adult social care and childcare, local councils are increasingly seeking innovative, low-cost solutions to the provision of care. A growing body of evidence suggests that regular engagement between the ages is beneficial to both young and old people, and also impacts favourably upon staff, employers and the wider community.
During her travels, Lorraine (pictured above, centre, at Windsor Place Care Home in Coffeyville, Kansas) visited nurseries and school kindergarten (reception) classes based within residential care homes, and spent time with staff, residents, children and parents. She also spoke to local school district superintendents, school board members, teachers, directors and administrators involved in co-located care homes.
"When you watch the interactions they have, the two generations bring so much to each other. It's just magical to watch them together” – Lorraine George
Pictured: Intergenerational care at a Kindergarten class in Enid, Oklahoma
Her research focused on the benefits that co-location of care brings, how the environment is structured to facilitate intergenerational interactions, the practical issues involved in setting up co-location and the community partnerships that can be created. She also saw how children and elders learn alongside each other.
“The time I spent in the USA gave me a fantastic opportunity to really experience the benefits of intergenerational learning and to see how it works in practice. I got to see a variety of business models that have been used in the different communities, from major cities to smaller rural towns. Seeing how the children and elders learned alongside each other was really inspiring and I believe my research will make a valuable contribution to the debate about the type of care that could be delivered here in the UK” – Lorraine George
Now back in the UK, Lorraine aims to implement new initiatives based on examples she observed during her travels.
Watch residents at Windsor Place nursing home in Coffeyville, Kansas, play 'Mystery Grandma's and Grandpa's' with a kindergarten class