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Nursery Unveiled at Care Home

This September will see an exciting new development for care homes with nursing staff and nursery schools, as the two combine for the first time in Britain.

Apples and Honey Nightingale

Nightingale House is a residential nursing home for elderly male and female Jewish people in south-west London. The home has had links with a local nursery – Apples and Honey – for a number of years, with young children making regular visits to residents around twice each term for the past 15 years. In fact, Nightingale House even lent students a minibus in order to travel to and from the home for singing and craft activities.

Since January, Nightingale House has hosted a weekly group for babies and toddlers, and now the long-standing partnership between the two organisations has developed further to create the Apples and Honey Nightingale nursery, set within the premises of the care home. This is believed to be the first example in this country of care homes with nursing facilities being conjoined with a nursery for young children.

Judith Ish-Horowicz is the principal of the nursery, which was established in Wimbledon in the early 1990s. She dreamed of combining her school with a nursing home. She instigated the early socialisations with Nightingale House and encouraged associations between the two separate organisations. Thanks to her work, a number of families with children at the nursery have ‘adopted’ residents of the home as grannies and grandpas, helping to prevent loneliness for residents with few visitors. However, it was only when she linked up with a mother who had a child at the nursery, and who had a background in social enterprise work, that the idea really began to take root, and Nightingale House was happy to enter negotiations about furthering the relationship.

Joint Activities

The new nursery school will open for 50 weeks of the year, with 20 per cent of the available child places being reserved for staff at the care home. Joint activities are planned that will involve and engage the care home residents and the children alike, with the emphasis on providing excellent links between the two age groups. It is hoped and expected that children and elderly residents will all gain huge benefits from the interactions.

The residential home is for people of the Jewish faith, but the nursery, although Jewish-faith-based, welcomes families of any faith. There will be a strong emphasis on the Jewish calendar thanks to the nursing home setting, with plans to celebrate the Shabbat alongside residents every week. Ms Ish-Horowicz believes that the familiar sounds and smells of these ceremonies will promote positive memories for residents, while shared meals and snack-times will also help to create strong bonds between the two age groups.

Nightingale House may be one of the first care homes with nursing facilities to open its doors to a much younger age group, but it is expected that the new project will be a resounding success. It is hoped that other nursing homes will follow suit in the near future, helping to foster meaningful interactions between the oldest and youngest generations over time.

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