Nursery school children and pensioners have become firm friends as part of an experimental session that brings the two age groups together.
Keen to build on the success of the hit Channel 4 documentary Old People’s Home For 4 Year Olds, the fortnightly sessions have brought three- and four-year-olds together with residents of Abbotswood Extra Care Housing in Rustington.
This sees youngsters from The Playcentre, in The Street, Rustington, attend Abbotswood for the hour-long sessions, where the children plays games and completes puzzles with their new older friends.
The sessions were organised by occupational therapists Sophie Grantham and Katie Roobottom and extra care housing co-ordinator Carrie Anderson.
Carrie said: “It was very clear to everyone who was there that both the adults and children had a great time doing crafts, building towers and puzzles. At the end of the session one of the tenants read a story to the whole group.
“What was really touching was when the children left, they gave the adults hugs, for some of the adults they will not have had a hug from a child for a long time.
“On a personal note being a part of this gave me that extra boost that we all need from time to time to remind us why we are doing what we do and I will be encouraging staff to go and join a session and see the benefits themselves.
“The impact on the tenants has been remarkable and they really look forward to these sessions.”
Unlike a traditional care home, Abbotswood Extra Care Housing, in Station Road, is made up of 62 self-contained apartments, or those over-60s who want the security of having care staff on hand but do not want to lose the independence of living in their own home.
Amanda Jupp, West Sussex County Council cabinet member for adults and health, said: “You might think that a room full of energetic four-year-olds is the last place that some of our older residents would want to be on a usually quiet Thursday morning.
“But no, it was plain to see the benefits of this project and to both the youngsters and I am just so pleased that this was something we were able to facilitate. You only have to look at the smiles on everyone’s faces to see the positive impact it had on all those involved.
“It is hoped that similar sessions will be developed in other extra care housing schemes across the county in the near future, which I know will be enthusiastically welcomed.”
To find out more information about the care home, visit www.saxonweald.com/our-retirement-schemes/abbotswood-rustington