Thursday, 3 August 2017

Old People's Home For Four Year Olds

We know that not all ideas and imports from America are good - I'm thinking guns, gangs, some fast foods and portion sizes, the over commercialisation of Christmas and Hallowe'en, beauty pageants for kids, Donald Trump and his ever-changing team of advisers, to name just a few.

But I think they may be onto a winner with the idea of having children visiting elderly people in care homes.

Channel Four's 'Old People's Home For Four Year Olds' had me smiling and weeping in almost equal measure.

I knew before watching it would probably be emotional, but it was also totally uplifting and convinced me that this is one American import that we should embrace.

Pre-schoolers spending time in care homes has worked successfully in the USA for over 20 years, and has proved beneficial for both age groups.

In the UK we saw a group of four-year olds heading to St Monica Trust care home near Bristol to spend time with the residents, being creative, playing games, going for walks in the grounds - which looked much nicer than many country house hotels I've stayed in.

They were also given some duck eggs to hatch, and the sheer delight on the faces of both young and old as the chicks emerged was a joy to behold.

Some of the elderly residents had been rated as being depressed, and one never smiled, but after a while she was grinning from ear to ear as a four-year old grabbed her hand and dragged her off to help with the latest activity.

Hamish, an elderly chap with an artificial leg, initially refused to get out of his chair and couldn't see the point of the whole project, but ended up laying on the floor playing sleeping lions with the children.

A new lease of life is what the older residents received, but what about the children?

They enjoyed talking, playing, laughing, colouring, reading and discussing the duck chicks pooping - because that's what kids do.  We have much to learn from the wisdom of four year olds.

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