Physio wins award for increasing benefits of intergenerational sessions

A physiotherapist has won an award for a project that has improved outcomes for children and older people who take part in intergenerational sessions.

Care home resident Jean plays with one of the children and says they 'definitely keep you active'. Photo: Care Inspectorate

Laura Haggarty, who is on secondment to the Care Inspectorate from NHS Ayrshire & Arran, received the Inspiring Project award at the Scottish Government and Healthcare Improvement Scotland’s Quality Improvement Awards, held in Glasgow last month.

The award was in recognition of her work as an improvement programme adviser for Care About Physical Activity (CAPA), a national improvement programme designed and led by the Care Inspectorate.

It focused on the use of an improvement methodology, and principles outlined in the CAPA resource pack, to maximise the benefits of intergenerational sessions that saw nursery children and older people interacting and building strong relationships with each other in East Ayrshire, Scotland.

Mrs Haggarty told Frontline: ‘Bringing young children and older people together to share experiences is a fantastic opportunity to engage people in physical activity and has wider implications on their social, emotional and psychological wellbeing.

‘It’s also a real chance to help and support care homes to be part of the wider community, build sustainable relationships with schools and nurseries and change perceptions about what older people can do and what care homes can offer the community.

‘The aim of our project was to take the concept of intergenerational practice, based on Generations Working Together guidelines, and make fundamental changes to sessions to ensure opportunities for learning, physical activity and relationship building were maximised, that improvements were sustained and learning was spread locally and nationally.

‘Winning this award will help to spread the word about the importance and the impact true intergenerational practice has and help it become the norm in all areas.’

Improved outcomes

Award wining physio Laura Haggarty with two residents of the care home

The project was a collaborative piece of work which brought together children from Gargieston Early Years Centre and residents at Springhill Care Home.

Older people in the care home had their physical activity levels recorded during the sessions, using ActivPAL activity trackers, and the average results showed improvements over time. 

‘By providing a different opportunity for physical activity in older people, we saw an improvement in those residents who wouldn’t normally get involved in “activities”,’ said Mrs Haggarty.

‘This was further broken down to individual residents and change ideas were developed based on individual’s abilities or choices.

‘The handgrip strength of the residents also increased by an average of 12.5 per cent, meaning their ability to carry out day-to-day activities improved.’

In addition, nursery staff identified which sessions and activities provided the best opportunities for ‘deep level’ learning for the children. This was achieved by monitoring two central indicators of quality early years provision: children’s ‘wellbeing’ and ‘involvement’.

‘Relationships were formed, perceptions of older people were changed and intergenerational practice is now embedded into the culture of the nursery and care home,’ Mrs Haggarty explained.

‘And improvements have been scaled up and implemented across other care homes, nurseries and schools in the partnership area with emerging positive outcomes for all.  This demonstrates the wider implications for building a more cohesive community and a greater understanding and respect between generations.’

Media coverage

The potential benefits of intergenerational sessions, which bring together older people in care and nursery children, has been highlighted by media coverage on the subject, such as the channel 4 show ‘Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds’.

Physiotherapist Melrose Stewart, who featured in the programme, heard about the CAPA programme and its intergenerational work and visited Mrs Haggarty and her colleagues in October to see the improvement programme in action.

 ‘The learning and impact of this project has shown that  adopting this improvement model and truly working collaboratively can lead to a far greater impact on the outcomes for both generations - outcomes which are more measurable, meaningful and importantly sustainable,’ said Mrs Haggarty.

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