Integrated care a first for toddlers and the elderly

Blog Post: 25 September 2017

Every now and then I stumble on some news that cheers me. In a care sector that – let’s face it – is embattled so terribly, it’s nice to find light relief.

And here it is: Can you imagine a care home opening its doors to play host to a baby and toddler group? At Nightingale House, London, it’s happening and reports say the concept is going down a storm

Quoted in The Guardian, 89-year-old Fay Garcia says: “Isn’t it fantastic? It’s the highlight of my week. It’s like being reborn.”

The group has been running since January and now a nursery project has been added.

This surely is integrated care at its best.

In the past Care Homes worked closely with Schools and Youth Groups. I myself was involved from the age of 14; I have also seen several projects abroad where the elderly have a side-by-side relationship with projects that come into their homes. The amount of integration reduced in the UK as the frailty and levels of Dementia rose and the number of Homes that could support it decreased. This was particularly bad in the West Midlands where the Local Authorities fund most of the Care Homes places and only fund Residents if they were Critical.

Integrated care first began in Tokyo when a nursery school and care home were combined. Since then, there have been successful schemes across Europe, Australia and the US. Integrated housing and living project are not new to us, but this is fresh and I sense a real vibrancy about this initiative. It’s thinking creatively, out of the box, bravely . . . and I think we need more of these opportunities.

Ish-Horowicz, founder of Nightingale project, came up with the idea many years ago after bringing children from her first nursery in Wimbledon to visit the home.

With places reserved for children of the care home staff and all the boxes ticked with the Ofsted registration I can envisage a close watch being kept on this project by some of my more creative members.

Quite apart from the potential social interaction and much needed stimulation for residents, there must be financial benefit to care providers who share space with third party businesses.

We keep hearing we need to do things differently . . . may be this is one of them, though I’m realistic enough to know not all of our care homes could countenance such a project. Space, resident profiles, CQC implications . . . I’m stopping now before I lose the warm glow I’ve enjoyed writing this blog.