Generation A-Z

Older people and children benefit from being together at Longbridge Retirement Village.

Children and older people have benefited from coming together at a successful Stay and Play group at Longbridge Retirement Village in Birmingham.

The village is run by The ExtraCare Charitable Trust who this year teamed up with Channel 4 for the current television series Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds. The second series, which goes out Monday nights at 9pm, delves into the effect of intergenerational contact on the very young and very old.

As a result of the social experiment the charity has pledged to roll out a wider programme of intergenerational activity across its villages and is encouraging people to take a moment to spend time with others outside of their age group. There are five villages in Birmingham.

The Stay and Play group is run by resident volunteers at Longbridge Village, including two in their eighties. It was set up earlier this year by resident Sue Crump, a qualified nursery nurse, and another resident Lynne Chalk.

The group meets weekly in the village hall and is called Mini Minor Stay and Play. Longbridge Retirement Village is on the site of the former Austin Rover car factory.

The children enjoy activities with residents and each session ends with the children and older people singing together.

Resident volunteer Susan Adams said: “I like to play with the children. Intergenerational activity is good because it makes you feel better, and younger in a way.”

Resident Volunteer Isobel Thomas added: “I volunteer for this group because I feel that it is quite important for the older people to keep in touch with the younger children. I think that it is a positive activity for both age groups. It makes me feel like I’ve spent my time positively and keeps my brain active as it requires me to do activities that I would not usually do.”

Sue, a 68 years-old grandmother, looks forward to the group which takes place in the village hall for children aged five and under. “It’s such a happy place,” she said. “It really works well. I’ve worked with children ever since I left school and it’s just something that I really enjoy doing. They are such good fun.”

Sue worked in nurseries, in a maternity unit, and then as a childminder. She retired in 2017, the month before she moved into an apartment at Longbridge Village along with her husband Phil.

“I love it here,” she said. “We’ve met so many people. I think when I retired I would have felt isolated in my own house but here you don’t feel isolated at all.”

The Channel 4 series sees a nursery created within ExtraCare’s Lark Hill Retirement Village in Nottingham. A team of geriatric specialists measure the impact of the intergenerational activity, focusing on mood, memory and mobility, and the effect on the children is also assessed.

The ExtraCare Charitable Trust’s Chief Executive Mick Laverty commented: “As a charity we exist to enable better lives for older people which is why we’re committed to continuing our intergenerational work. We already know from research with Aston University that our unique approach to homes, lifestyle and care, if needed, reduces the symptoms of depression so often linked to isolation, mobility issues and loneliness for residents in our villages.”

Residents at ExtraCare’s retirement villages in Birmingham have already enjoyed a range of intergenerational activities. Local school children have joined residents in a craft session and university students have performed concerts for residents.