‘It shows people outside that the home is not just for the elderly - that there is life here as well’
A Sheffield babies and toddlers group have been given £20,000 to run dozens of sessions with elderly people in city care homes.
Rattle and Roll babies and toddlers groups were given the money by Sheffield Council’s dementia innovation fund to host their group at four care homes.
Over the next year they will do 48 sessions at each care home - 196 sessions in total - with the hope of improving the health of those suffering from dementia.
The first session took place recently at Darnall View care home, on Halsall Avenue, in Darnall, a private home which caters for around 24 people.
Anne Connolly, founder and owner of Rattle and Roll, said the idea came about when she saw a clip of a similar group holding an event at a care home in a different country.
“I thought well I have the children, why couldn’t I do something similar,” she said.
“When I was first trying to set it up, there was that fear that should we expose our children to this. Even the care home were a bit worried about it.
“But I see now that there was no risk and nothing to be scared of. They are all really nice people.
“In other care homes where we have done this, families have said thank you for giving us memories we would not have had otherwise - that is precious.”
The dementia innovation fund is based on the idea of changing the thinking around a disease that is forecast to affect one million more people by 2025.
The one-hour music and sensory workshops will run in four care homes in some of the more deprived areas of the city and will be open to residents, families, and children under five from the local community.
When the workshops come to an end in December, the care homes will be left with a full set of equipment and session plans so they can continue the programme after the funding stops.
Newly-appointed home manager, Dorota Piechoviak, said they were really happy with the way the first session had gone.
“It has been really beneficial,” she said.
“It is very therapeutic for them. They are getting that interaction from outside the home they don’t always get.
“When Anne told me she had the money I thought it would be great for the residents.
“Music is really therapeutic for people with dementia as it stimulates the brain. Even the gentlemen were enjoying themselves.
“It shows people outside that the home is not just for the elderly - that there is life here as well.”
Dorota said as well as the babies groups, the home had also brought in an Amazon Alexa smart speaker, which the residents were encouraged to interact with.
She added that the cost of putting on these kinds of event is often prohibitive for cash-strapped homes, so when Rattle and Roll was given the funding they jumped at the chance.
“In other homes they buy in people to do music therapy but we can’t afford to do that,” said Dorota.
“This will really change some of these people’s lives.”
Pat Burley, aged 78, who has been living at the home since last July, said the morning had been ‘brilliant’.
“I think it is one of the best things they have ever done here. I really enjoyed it and it made me feel young again,” she said.
And Ann Osborn, 76, said everyone at the home - children as well as adults - had ‘loved it’.
One of the mums taking part was 32-year-old Jamie Jeffrey, from Hackenthorpe, who was there with six months old Skyla.
She said it had been a ‘really lovely’ session.
“As soon as they said they were going to do it in care homes it is something that we were really keen to get involved with. It is such a good idea,” she added.
“Just integrating children with elderly people is a great idea, especially those who might not have family around.
“Everyone was smiling and one of the residents even got up and started dancing. We are looking forward to coming back next week.”
Cabinet member for Health and Social Care at Sheffield Council, councillor Chris Peace, said: “Rattle and Roll was one of nine successful applicants for funding from our intergenerational dementia innovation fund.
“These projects are part of our long-term vision to invest in community activities and services for people living with dementia, their families and carers.
“There is lots of evidence that giving children and older people opportunities to interact with each other is hugely positive for both the children and the adults and we know this project will have a lasting benefit in our communities.”