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  • Writer's pictureProfessor Martin Green OBE

Breaking Generational Barriers: The Power of Intergenerational Connections in Care Communities

Care England is a representative body for care providers and our members run and manage thousands of services delivering care and support to older people, people with learning disabilities and autism, and people with brain injuries and with mental health challenges. One of our big priorities is to make sure that residential care is seen as part of the community, and regardless of peoples needs, they should not be cut off from engagement with their local services and local community 


It is important to remember that for people to thrive they have to be in mixed company and that includes people of all ages. I have seen from my own experience the benefits of intergenerational connections, and there was recently a brilliant Channel 4 documentary called ‘the care home for five-year-olds' which showed the benefits to both young and old of intergenerational activity. What was great about this documentary, was that it really showed that mixing young and old people tended to make them put aside their prejudices and engage with one another on equal terms. What was fantastic to see, was the impact the younger people had on the older peoples wellbeing, and on their physical abilities. It was also good to see how inquisitive the young people were, and how much they wanted to learn from their older friends. Younger people also lack many inhibitions and asked direct questions which the older people were very happy to answer. All too often as we age, people think there are areas that nobody should talk about. What was refreshing to see from this documentary, was the lack of any “no go” areas from the young children and they were more than happy to talk about illness, loss, physical disability, and range of things that are very seldom communicated between people of a similar age.


At the start of the documentary there was one lady who was clinging to her Zimmer frame and at the end of the documentary,  following months of connection with a young friend, she was able to be part of an egg and spoon race. The impact this connection between youth and age had on this person was amazing, and it showed the way for intergenerational activities to be at the heart of delivering good quality lives, for both young and old . 


We are starting to see many care providers developing nursery provision on their sites, and this is helping to foster connections between the generations, and is really showing the enormous benefits of mixing age groups. In many ways, this is the natural order of things where young and old come together to support one another. It is only really since the 20th century, that these generational divisions have become the norm. I have personally seen the benefits intergenerational activity delivers for young and old and I am a firm believer that we need to foster connection and relationships across different age groups, if we are going to have a caring society. 


Global intergenerational week is an opportunity for as all to celebrate the connection between different ages and communities. In recent years intergenerational work has taken a much higher profile and it is incumbent upon us all to show the benefits of a mixed age approaches and this can point the way to a better future for us all.

1 Comment

Di Newton
Di Newton
Apr 29

Take a look at the range of accredited Intergenerational training available

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