It’s a delightful sight – babies and toddlers talking, laughing, singing, accepting cuddles and even playing with the older residents of Howard Lodge in Brentwood.
This is the latest in a series of special sessions organised by the home and the Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service (ECFWS).
Children and their parents who use the service, provided by Virgin Care in partnership with Barnardo’s, are invited to the Howard Lodge Care Centre fortnightly.
There, they sing songs the residents will know including old favourites such as the ‘Hokey Cokey’ and ‘Daisy Daisy’.
The residents also tell the children about their childhood and share other fond memories.
Two Community Engagement Workers from ECFWS started the morning sessions for the residents in June to meet, play and generally have fun together. Two have taken place over the summer holidays
The babies and toddlers are accompanied by their parents, who all join in the various activities, including singing, arts and crafts and just chatting and getting to know each other. Cuddles are provided for the babies from the residents.
The aim is to bring the young and elderly and help cheer the residents, reducing depression and isolation, as well as help with mobility and physical skills.
For the children, the meetings help them develop empathy, confidence and build on language and communication skills.
Howard Lodge resident Stella Goss said: “I like seeing all the generations come together and it’s really good for the children to get to know each other and us.”
Fellow resident Phyllis Parker added: “I’m 90 now and I don’t get to see young children so I really enjoy being with the children. They make me happy.”
Mum Anna Caruana-Smith went along with her nine-month-old Henry and Sebastian, who is three-and-a-half-years-old said: “The boys’ Nana says they keep her going and young so I wanted to help others. I’m a Speech Therapist and I can see how mutually beneficial it is.”
Mum Emma Hepburn who goes with son Oliver, aged three, added:
“Ollie doesn’t have a Granny so I thought this would be really good for him.”
Dawn Delgaty, a Community Engagement Worker for ECFWS, said “Everyone really enjoys these mornings, they are great. You can see the joy on the resident’s faces when the children come and sit with them and play. It’s really lovely.”
Claire Watson, General Manager of the Howard Lodge Care Home, added: “I can see how much our residents enjoy this and think it’s wonderful that they have an opportunity to share recollections of their childhood. I can see that it takes them back to their youth and they really like telling their stories of the past to the smiling, happy children and their parents.”