What happened when we invited children to visit one of our dementia care units?

After seeing Channel 4 documentary ‘Old People's Home for 4 Year Olds’, Dementia Care Unit Manager Chris Powell invited local children to meet residents at Danbury Lodge, inspiring amazing reactions from residents.

The BAFTA-nominated documentary featured one of the UK’s biggest retirement villages which opened a nursery within the community to see what the young and old generations could learn from each other.

Inspired by the series, along with help from his wife who is the manager of a local nursery school, Chris Powell invited young children to meet and play with residents at Danbury Lodge.

“With Hayley, my wife, being a manger of a local nursery and me being the Head of a dementia unit we thought it was an obvious thing to do,” Chris said of the project.

“The children, obviously they’re three and four-year-olds so they haven’t got any preconceived ideas about dementia as such,” he added.

Chris told us how much the visits from the children mean to the residents.

“Probably about an hour before the children came I was a bit worried Nancy [one of the residents] wasn’t actually going to take part because I know how much she loves it," he said.

“One of the members of staff just had a word with her and said: ‘Look the children are coming this morning’, and she couldn’t get out bed fast enough.”

Chris's wife, Hayley Powell, who manages the local nursery that the children attend explained how the visits also aid the children’s learning and development.

“I think what the children are learning, which is really important, is about how important it is to make other people happy,” she said.

“Making another human laugh and smile and respond to you and communicate with you, those moments are special.”

“Young children, it’s about the moment, as with the residents – and that’s the beauty of this project,” she added.

Award-winning care

Danbury Lodge is an award-winning dementia care unit based at Halsey House in Cromer, Norfolk. The Royal British Legion has six care homes catering for ex-Service men and women and their partners. Situated around the country, they offer a wide range of services, with four homes providing specialist dementia care.

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