Spring chickens: Castleford care home welcomes nursery children and hatchlings to boost wellbeing

A project bringing together the young and the elderly at a Wakefield care home is helping to reduce social isolation amongst its residents.

Manor Park Care Home in Castleford has opened its doors to children from neighbouring Unicorn Nursery so that they can meet its latest arrivals – six newly-hatched chickens – which have been incubated at the home.

Part of Wakefield’s care home vanguard, which operates under the Connecting Care programme, the hatchling project aims to reduce social isolation by bringing together young and older people. Connecting Care brings together partners from social care, healthcare, housing and voluntary sector organisations across the Wakefield district to improve integration of care.

The children will visit every day for three weeks to interact with the residents and learn about the chicks as they grow.

The project aims to increase active participation of residents in a range of new activities, give children the opportunities to build relationships with another generation and for staff to engage and learn from each other’s professional practices.

It is hoped that the project will decrease social isolation, increase self-esteem and meaningful activities which should improve residents’ overall wellbeing.

Maria Motley, Manager at Unicorn Nursery, said: “The children and residents have begun creating a really nice bond with one another. We have seen such a positive impact on the children’s social and emotional development. We have also seen confidence grow in many of our children who would normally be shy within our nursery environment.”

Jane Bridges, who is an occupational therapist for the care home vanguard and one of the co-ordinators of the programme, said: “It has been a great pleasure working with the residents, children and staff of Manor Park and Unicorn. There is a buzz and excitement from young and old alike when the children visit. The children’s enthusiasm is infectious, as are their smiles. We hoped to build meaningful relationships between the generations and we are seeing great benefits for all involved. We hope that the project has a legacy of close weekly working between the two parties.”

Libby Eades, Network Hubs Senior Support Worker at Age UK Wakefield District, said: “We wanted to build on the existing relationship between Manor Park and Unicorn Nursery to bring young and old together to enjoy the wonder of chickens hatching whilst  creating more consistent contact between the two with a variety of developmental activities. People in care homes are often isolated and cut off from the outside community and this was an ideal way to provide lasting and meaningful relationships, reduce social isolation and hopefully increase overall wellbeing for both.”

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