Residents at Belong care village in Newcastle-under-Lyme and others in the group operated by not-for-profit care provider Belong, have found real reasons to be cheerful during the Covid-19 epidemic, as a result of an initiative from Liverpool-based charity, Ready Generations, which has encouraged children of all ages to become pen pals for older people in care, as part of their Reasons to Stay Cheerful Campaign.
Budding artists at nurseries and schools, from across the country have been invoking a modern-day Blitz spirit to create letters, paintings and crafts, with messages of reassurance, and reasons for their intergenerational pals to stay positive and keep worries about the current situation at bay.
The children’s work is being collated into digital presentations so that care village residents can see virtual galleries of creative arts through electronic devices. This eliminates any risk of handling paper and cardboard copies. There are also plans to show visual presentations on large screens in Belong’s state-of-the-art villages.
Social interaction with younger generations, even via such indirect communication, can trigger reminiscence and happy memories, which can help improve wellbeing, delay cognitive decline and promote a sense of safety and comfort. At this particularly difficult time, Ready Generations believe creative communication can also promote benefits of reduced feelings of loneliness for both isolated children and older people.
Tracy Paine, Deputy Chief Executive of Belong, commented: “At Belong, working with our local communities has always played a key role in the care for our residents, but it serves a vital role more than ever at this unique time. With visits to the village currently suspended, letters and artwork from young authors and artists are being gratefully received by residents, and they also provide the opportunity to generate life-long friendships between the generations.”
Sue Egersdorff, spokesperson for Ready Generations, said: “There’s a lot in the news about food, but for older people, it’s also the lack of connection with others that they will really suffer from. We’re also finding that young children are worried about the news, so this positive initiative is a valuable distraction and supports the wellbeing and mental health of both age groups.”
Future contributions from children beyond the current National Intergenerational Week, can be made by photographing or scanning letters, messages and art works and sending to firstname.lastname@example.org , following which they will be collated and displayed within Belong’s care villages.