Intergenerational Care in Care Homes: Caveats and Considerations

Stephanie Green and Kate Howson from Swansea University delivered a workshop on Intergenerational Care in Care Homes in August this year. The session provided practitioners with the opportunity to learn more about intergenerational care and think about how they could overcome the potential challenges of supporting intergenerational activity in care homes.

Stephanie began the workshop by providing an overview of intergenerational care and the potential benefits. Intergenerational care was identified as being particularly important in the UK as we have one of the most segregated societies by age. The approach aims to provide purposeful, mutually beneficial activities that can enable generations to connect and learn from each other.

Most of the evidence on intergenerational care to date is anecdotal and further research is needed to explore what makes programmes effective for older adults, children and young people, staff and loved ones. It is also important to understand what makes a programme sustainable.

In groups, attendees discussed what their key considerations would be when planning and setting up intergenerational activity in a care home. Considerations included:

  • Staff training and support needs;
  • Carefully choosing activities and offering a tailored approach that appeals to residents and children;
  • Identifying a suitable environment;
  • Safeguarding;
  • Travel between the school and care home; and
  • Funding.

In the second half of the workshop, Kate presented the aims and methods of her PhD project, as well as her initials reflections and messages for practice. The project aims to explore the impact of intergenerational care in South Wales. Kate is using a mixed methods approach to compare the outcomes of intergenerational programmes that are being delivered in care homes for at least six weeks with non-intergenerational programmes. The primary outcome measure for older adults is the effect that the programmes have on their quality of life.

Attendees discussed in groups how they would overcome the challenges that they had identified earlier in the workshop. Ideas and practical solutions were then shared, for example:

  • Involving participants (both older adults and children) in the planning stage;
  • Choosing activities based on the strengths and interests of the participants;
  • Engaging with schools that are in walking distance;
  • Involving community volunteers and family members;
  • Meeting regularly to reflect on how the programme is going; and
  • Sharing good practice with other care homes.

In the final part of the workshop, attendees were invited to share their experiences of implementing intergenerational programmes. Attendees reflected on what had gone well, the barriers they had faced and the lessons that they have learnt. For example, the proximity of the school to the care home was felt to be particularly important for success by one practitioner.

The session concluded by providing attendees with resources on tips for delivering intergenerational care and some useful reading.