Shared sites – ending 'age apartheid', improving lives
The idea of co-locating services for older and young people is hardly new. But compared to other countries, the UK is lagging behind in putting it into practice, says United for All Ages director Stephen Burke.
The UK is one of the most age segregated countries in the world. The oldest and youngest generations in particular rarely mix.
This has social consequences – from wasting experience and skills to increasing loneliness and isolation.
Increasingly this ‘age apartheid’ is recognised in the UK. A number of projects are bringing together older people’s housing and care with childcare and other services for families and young people.
Several different models are emerging - from the full co-location of care homes and nurseries to weekly visits to care homes by nurseries and parent and toddler groups.
In September Apples & Honey Nightingale in London became the first fully integrated nursery on a care home site in the UK, offering daily joint activities.
The interaction between older residents and children started with a weekly babies and toddlers group at Nightingale House care home. It’s now being taken forward in a nursery developed in a converted building with a playground set in beautiful gardens in the care home grounds.
There are multiple beneficiaries from shared sites such as the care-home nursery at Apples and Honey Nightingale:
- Older residents experience more activities, less isolation and better health
- Children experience enhanced early learning and social development
- Parents can mix with people of all ages and work because of childcare
- Relatives and families of older people benefit from their increased interaction
- Staff of both providers have more interesting opportunities and childcare support
- The wider community has a centre for all ages they can use and share locally
For elder care and childcare providers, the economic benefits of co-location also include:
- sharing back office costs: from maintenance and catering to IT and HR to training and management
- marketing across generations: reaching different parts of the same family whose care needs will change over time from childcare to eldercare
- creating a USP: pioneers of co-located care will have a special offer to families needing care
- sharing skills and learning of staff: opportunities to grow and develop staff
- recruitment and retention of staff: one of the biggest challenge for many providers, co-location provides opportunities for staff to undertake new roles in different settings
- providing community facilities: a shared site will become a local magnet and be sought after by others looking for space and activities
- growing demand: our ageing population means a growing need for care which will help businesses become more sustainable, while demand for childcare grows as more parents work
Shared sites can range from traditional community centres to the co-location of older people’s housing with care and childcare facilities. I'll be talking more about some of the many models of shared sites now emerging in the UK at CIH Cymru's Older people's housing conference in December.
- Stephen is one of many expert speakers at CIH Cymru's Older people's housing conference, which takes place on 5 December in Swansea. Find out more and book your place