It’s all in the conversation

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Intergenerational conversations have been filling the air at local Shaw care home Hillside Lodge in Pulborough.

Nursing home residents and students have been enjoying time together, thanks to the innovative thinking of national healthcare provider Shaw healthcare and local pioneering education establishment, Seaford College.

Hillside Lodge care home, has welcomed three students every Thursday into the home, for the past nine weeks. Activity Coordinator Martine Fish said: “In the planning stages, I wasn’t too sure about the idea of this project but, it has given so much joy to the residents who really love seeing the students. Its been a real eye opener for me, we shall defiantly be doing more like this with Seaford College”

The project focuses around generations coming together for conversations in relaxed environments, whilst at the same time highlighting many generational similarities or differences of the people, not simply the age differences. Local lady and resident for the past fourteen months, Betty Stuart said: “Its been lovely having chats with these young ladies, my grandson Tom was a student at the College so, they were surprised when I knew so much about their school”

The students are offered a full induction prior to interactions commencing, Jane Harris, Relationship Manager from Shaw commented: “It’s so important the students understand why people are here and that this is their home” Within the students induction Shaw offer a lift in a hoist; helping students to understand the loss of dignity and total vulnerability felt by residents. Jane continued: “The induction helps to get students ready for spending time in the home, in the induction we also offer risk assessments for wheelchair use and drink making. The full induction takes up the first visit, and also includes a guided tour of the home”

Students have been talking, reading, joining in musical entertainment and simply sitting having a cup of tea whilst enjoying the company of the older person. This is not work experience, students are not engaging in any delivery of personal care. This is intergenerational community interaction at its best, with interactions happening in communal areas within the care home.

The link between Seaford College and Shaw healthcare is set to continue, a large picnic and musical party in the grounds of the college, is being planned for residents from all Shaw homes across the Sussex region in the summer. Tutor Clive Thorpe said: “Its been a great beginning for us and the Shaw homes, apart from the intergenerational work in the three services chosen for this first project, we have also arranged for residents to attend concerts and events in the school, including a festive lunch last December. Its fabulous to see the generations working together”

Report and pictures contributed by Shaw care homes.