Children learn about dementia with help from Alderwood care home residents

Residents at Alderwood Care Home are helping the Year 3 children of North Primary School to better understand dementia with help from the Archie Project.

Residents at Alderwood Care Home in Colchester are helping the Year 3 children of North Primary School to better understand dementia with help from the Archie Project.

Our care home, located on Essex Hall Road, is rated ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission, and provides residential, nursing, dementia, and specialist end of life care.

The team at Alderwood approached the primary school last year to suggest taking part in the intergenerational dementia awareness project.

Now in its second year at the care home, the project continues to promote dementia awareness and build friendships between the two generations.

Alderwood resident Mary Mayhew, aged 95, loves getting to spend time with the school children each week and especially enjoys her time crafting with seven-year-old Connor.

She said: “It has been so lovely having the children come into the home, they are a delight to talk to and their visits always bring a smile to everyone’s face. Chatting with little Connor makes me wish I were young again!”

Couple Geoff and Anne Sirett are residents at the care home and are both former teachers. Anne is living with dementia and lives in the home’s specialist dementia suite.

A retired headteacher with almost 40 years of teaching experience, 85-year-old Geoff jokes that the downside of living in a care home is that it is “full of old people”.

He said: “It’s great to see the youngsters, they always bring a lot of joy and happiness.

“It is so important that our young people learn about dementia, I myself only got an understanding of it in my senior years.

“The more awareness the children have of dementia, the more compassionate they will become, and the younger they learn the more influence they can have on politicians and other decision makers.”

Two classes, each of 30 children, participate in the project, with sessions taking place in the home’s brasserie, where groups of four pupils and two residents sit together to chat, take part in craft activities, and read stories.

Home manager Nicola Leaney said: “Our aim is to educate the children about how memory, thinking and social abilities can be affected for those people living with dementia.

“Our hope is to help dispel the fear and stigma often associated with dementia. The children are usually quite shy at first, as are some of our residents, but they both soon open up as friendships are built.”

Michelle Olley, Year 3 teacher at North Primary School, added: “Each time we visit it is an absolute pleasure to see the interactions between our children and the residents.

“The children like to ask their new friends questions to discover what life was like for them when they were younger. It always fills me with joy to see the happiness that these visits create for all involved.

“I hope that we can continue with the project for years to come.”

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