Anyone who’s seen the Channel 4 documentary Old People’s Home for Four-Year-Olds, in which care home residents are introduced to a classroom of preschoolers, will know that it had hugely beneficial results. But this Nottingham-based home wasn’t the first to pioneer the experiment. Nightingale Hammerson, a leading care provider in the Jewish community for over 180 years, was the first UK care home to integrate a children’s nursery onsite, in Clapham’s Nightingale House. Today, their newly redeveloped Hammerson House opens in Hampstead Garden Suburb, where they’ll be working with a variety of nurseries and primary schools in the local area.
Nightingale House proved that daily interaction, including reading, singing and cooking, between the children and residents actively helped to address social isolation, boost cognitive and physical stimulation, and provide self-worth through shared experiences with the children. So when doors finally closed to the former north London building in 2017, the organisation’s intergenerational approach was a priority in the planning process.
“The care of our older generation has never been closer to people’s hearts,” said Melvin Lawson, chairman of Nightingale Hammerson, “and many now recognise the importance this sector holds in our society.” The development has also highlighted a shortfall in funding for the industry, which Lawson says must be met with backing from donors. “How can the government make this a priority and work towards providing outstanding care for our older population? It is a huge question and currently there is no clear answer.”
Last Thursday, Chief Rabbi Mirvis affixed a mezuzah to the Hammerson House and performed the dedication ceremony of Chanukat Habayit. The new building houses over 100 residents, who receive Nightingale Hammerson’s unique intergenerational care, a vibrant living and social environment, and innovative therapies.