The first fully integrated nursery within a care setting in the North West has been singled out amongst organisations worldwide for demonstrating the benefits of building relationships between younger and older generations, as well as sharing intergenerational best practice on an international stage.
The Nursery in Belong, which is set within the state-of-the-art Belong care village in Chester and operated by national charity Ready Generations, won the International Award at the Generations Working Together Excellence Awards, which celebrate learning and success in building intergenerational relationships.
The rigorous judging process assessed evidence of the positive impact of initiatives bringing different generations together, including improved health and physical and mental well-being for elders, children and their families, as well as raising awareness and understanding around ageism.
Situated at the heart of the care village, the 25-place nursery provides a range of shared spaces, facilitating both planned and spontaneous interactions, such as residents and children enjoying mealtimes, sharing stories and books and exploring nature together. The nursery and village teams work closely together to create a truly shared environment where everyone can feel part of a compassionate community and make their own valuable and unique contribution.
Examples of planned intergenerational opportunities include weekly stay-and-play sessions, a multi-generational choir, storytelling, poetry and dance workshops. Projects facilitated by partnerships with external groups, including schools, museums and arts organisations, serve to extend reach into the local community and widen participation.
Residents report that both the planned and spontaneous interactions are changing their lives for the better, with their families also reporting the difference children are making to their loved ones’ well-being. Parents of children attending the nursery are excited by the significant advances in children’s vocabulary, language and social and emotional skills.
The Nursery in Belong is also a research facility, affiliated with several universities, including the University of Stirling. This research focus helps to develop and disseminate evidence-based practice to others across a range of areas, such as sensory well-being, design of spaces and communication and language development.
Commenting on the award win, Ready Generations co-founder, Sue Egersdorff, said: “Less than a year after the nursery opened, we are delighted to be recognised for demonstrating the benefits of multi-generational relationships, as well as contributing to the pool of knowledge on best practice in this growing area. This award belongs to our wonderful Belong Community of children, grandfriends, families and staff. They are all very special pioneers.”