State-of-the-art care village operator Belong has been granted planning permission for the North West’s first nursery within a care setting, at its most recent development, which is currently under construction in Chester.
The 25-place nursery, featuring a secure sensory nature and play garden, will provide a high-quality care and learning environment for children from birth to five years, operating flexibly over six days a week to accommodate work and shift patterns. As a pioneering concept, the intergenerational nursery is designed to offer shared learning experiences and opportunities for children, families and older people, and will develop into a blueprint for intergenerational practice.
Village and nursery teams will work closely together to create a truly shared environment where children and older people can actively spend time together building meaningful relationships and connections. This will make the Chester site Belong’s first truly integrated intergenerational care village.
The project has taken several years to plan and involved Belong working closely with experts from the national charity Ready Generations, which advocates and investigates the benefits of connection between generations through education, the promotion of lifelong learning and care. The charity works in partnership with several universities, including the University of Stirling, which already has an outstandingly successful research kindergarten.
Building connections between generations is proven to have extensive benefits for both older and younger people, as Sue Egersdorff, founder of Ready Generations, explains: “Intergenerational interactions are shown to improve cognition, health and wellbeing, including supporting the learning and development of children and reducing feelings of disconnect and loneliness in older people. Young people also gain life experiences and improve their personal and social skills within new situations and environments. Both enjoy positive social interactions and the chance to develop meaningful friendships where age is of no significance. This creates a more robust vision of joyful living, one in which our dignity as humans does not depend on whether we are able to exercise certain capabilities. Everyone is accepted for who they are and what they bring.”
Commenting on the development, Belong’s deputy chief executive, Tracy Paine said: “All our villages provide a vibrant hub within the wider community, and we are particularly excited about the unique possibilities of having an integrated intergenerational nursery on site. With a successful track record in promoting intergenerational engagement, we already witness the benefits of this approach. By working closely with Ready Generations, we have been able to access the most advanced knowledge from research and practice to take this a step further. We expect our learning and understanding will continue to grow as the concept develops, with benefits for both residents and colleagues.”