Photo from Apples and Honey Nightingale CIC

Writing as a guest author for the Stephens Scown Healthcare team, Judith Ish-Horowicz MBE, Co Founder and Director of Apples and Honey Nightingale CIC, shares how children and the care home residents join in reciprocal programmes daily to learn, live and laugh together.

Apples and Honey Nightingale CIC

‘This is so messy, I’ve not had so much fun for years!’ Margie, aged 87, was sitting with 3-year old Rosie, Sam and Eden painting on little metal egg cups and chatting about life and colours and sunshine. That week they had already planted herbs in the garden, baked bread, been to an intergenerational exercise class and enjoyed a music and movement session, singing both nursery rhymes and old-time music hall songs.

At Apples and Honey Nightingale CIC (AHN), a daycare and pre-school co-located in the grounds of Nightingale House (NH), children and the care home residents join in reciprocal programmes daily to learn, live and laugh together. The first intergenerational nursery in a care home with a vision of bringing residents and children together daily to enjoy mutually beneficial activities, AHN opened in 2017 in the South London site of the charity, Nightingale Hammerson Care Homes. NH is a centre of excellence for dementia and end of life care and the average age of entry to the home is 92. Many of the residents have not had children and are embarking on a new phase in their lives as they partner with the nursery staff, supporting the children’s communication and language skills, sharing life experiences and being their ‘grandfriends’.

Many of the children, aged 3 months – 5 years, do not have extended family living nearby and would not otherwise have the opportunity to meet and mix with older generations. Watching the relationships develop, seeing the faces light up and the welcoming hugs is amazing.

All our programmes are carefully planned to be mutually beneficial, both therapeutically and developmentally. We welcome relatives and friends to visit, or volunteer and support the activities and we send regular updates to family members so that they can also enjoy the variety of their loved ones’ activities. 20% of our places are reserved for the children of the care staff which helps retention and recruitment. As a not-for-profit, social enterprise, our purpose is to enhance the lives of everyone involved and to promote social cohesion.

Seeing is believing, watch our video.

AHN has partnered with Generations Working Together in Scotland and with Linking Generations Northern Ireland in a National Lottery Community funded project to develop quality indicators on intergenerational practice and we have now opened an intergenerational community space that is open to all the local community where we have intergenerational ballet, poetry, singing, a baby and toddler group and an after-school club.

We have also developed accredited courses in intergenerational practice so that everyone who wishes to be involved in this transformational movement can truly understand how to make it impactful. We have classes to suit anyone, ranging from an online introductory course to a 5-day total immersion summer school

You can find out more about our training courses here.

Charlotte, a resident’s daughter told us “There’s something magical about little children singing. It was more effective than any medicine or any treatment in returning the twinkle to my mother after dementia hit.”

The mother of 3-year-old, Maeve said ‘I describe AHN as a place that can really make a childhood’.

But maybe it’s the voice of a grandfriend that speaks loudest,

‘I love it right from the start. It is the highlight of my week. Happiest atmosphere you can get’, Brenda aged 91.