Primary school children and nursing home residents have been brought together to highlight growing pressures in the care sector in a campaign called “Teaching Forgotten Skills”.
Working with Marches Care and The Wilfred Owen School, leading care management software provider Access Group has introduced a class of six-year-old school children to residents of The Uplands Nursing & Dementia Care Home in Shropshire.
During the activities children learned about skills which would once have been commonplace, but are now being forgotten either due to advancements in technology or shifting cultural norms. These included knitting, map-reading and playing old-fashioned games.
Age UK evidence suggests that intergenerational care has numerous health benefits for the old, with studies finding that intergenerational programs with preschool children bring in friendships which are the most effective type of contact. Researchers found that guided contact improved the older adults’ cognitive-emotional regulation, which is their ability to recognise and combine both positive and negative emotions.
Access Group’s “Teaching Forgotten Skills” campaign is aimed at highlighting the benefits of these activities and the growing time pressures being placed on care workers; while delivering a day of fun activities for young and old alike.
Alistair Bryce Clegg, of ABC Does, is a former infant school head teacher and an established early years consultant. He provided his expertise to the popular Channel 4 programme Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds which highlighted the many advantages of intergenerational contact in the care sector.
Commenting, he said: “In today’s busy society, with technology increasingly prominent and many parents working full time and living further away from their own parents, the UK’s population of older people living in the care sector represents a vastly under-appreciated resource.
“Government strategy is starting to incorporate more types of intergenerational projects, such as Access Group’s Teaching Forgotten Skills campaign, and it is great to see more of these schemes springing up across the country.”
Demographic projections suggest that by 2048, there will be 3.5million people over the age of 85 in the UK and of those, 500,000 will need round-the-clock care. Meanwhile Age UK estimates that 2m people aged 75+ currently live alone and believes that loneliness can be as harmful to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Carey Bloomer, managing director, The Uplands care home said: “It is incredible to see the impact that spending a few hours with young people can have on our residents. Working closely with people living with dementia, it is clear how big the impact of spending time with people can have on the health and happiness of older people.”
Steve Sawyer, a health and social care technology specialist at The Access Group, says that despite professional carers being fundamental to reducing loneliness and improving mental health – factors out of their control are making it harder to spend enough time on the things that matter.
He said: “It is no secret that the ongoing recruitment and retention crisis is having a huge impact on the amount of care we can provide for elderly or disabled people.” Skills for Care recently reported a rise of more than 22,000 vacancies in the care sector over the last year, meaning that there are now more than 110,000 vacant jobs in the adult social care sector.
“Those currently providing care in residential settings are facing huge pressures to manually record lots of information on every shift This means that the sort of enriching activities seen during this campaign are rarer than they should be; as staff simply do not have the time once the essential tasks for the day are completed.
“At Access Group, we are passionate about providing dedicated and skilled care workers with the tools to reduce the amount of unnecessary paperwork and administration tasks and increase productivity. The challenges facing the sector are unlikely to disappear, so it is only through innovating with projects such as this, and making the industry more efficient, that we can spend more time making a positive difference.”
To watch the “Teaching Forgotten Skills” video, or learn more about the residents who took part in the campaign, go to www.theaccessgroup.com/TFS.