The Benefits of Intergenerational Friendships

Last year we proudly hosted National Intergenerational Week – celebrating relationships forged between different generations and the places and organisations that helped to facilitate them. This year we are handing the reigns over to Generations Working Together, who are collaborating with Linking Generations Northern Ireland, Bridging the Generations, and The Cares Family. More details can be found here.

Whilst no longer running the event, here at St Monica Trust, we are still passionate about increasing our intergenerational activity. The coronavirus pandemic has put on hold many efforts to do so, but we are hopeful that as the world gradually returns to an element of normality, work in this area can continue.

Key benefits of intergenerational friendships

Intergenerational activities are social engagements and interactions, bringing together younger and older generations for a common purpose. They build on the strengths that different generations have to offer, nurture understanding, mutual respect and challenge ageism. Both parties can feel a sense of ownership, as well as putting a smile on everyone’s faces.

Reducing loneliness
  • Over the past year, more and more people have had to cope with being alone. It is difficult for many and is increasingly common amongst the older community. Facilitating intergenerational relationships can help to tackle this issue as it bridges the gap and removes the barrier of being unable to meet other people.
Learning new things
  • Different generations grow up surrounded by different things and sharing knowledge is a key to growth. Older people can teach us valuable life skills, and similarly, the younger generation may be able to introduce and explain modern technologies to those who haven’t had much exposure to them.
Boosting confidence
  • Learning to speak to people from different backgrounds and expanding your social circle can help to build confidence.

Intergenerational relationships at St Monica Trust

The idea of helping people engage with and interact with others isn’t new to us at St Monica Trust. We’ve been doing it for years. Whether they are our residents, customers or others living in the wider Bristol area.

We’ve found that there are many wonderful ways of bringing people together. From organising community events and setting up befriending schemes, to offering all kinds of activities, groups and initiatives. One special project involved young musicians from the Bristol Pre-Conservatoire writing pieces of music to tell the stories of our residents’ lives.

This example of interaction between children and older adults brought so many unique benefits to everyone involved. Of course, our care homes and retirement villages have always encouraged young people to come in and share their talents, enthusiasm and sheer vitality with residents. But over recent years we’ve been looking at different ways of using intergenerational activity so it can be even more fulfilling for those involved.

In 2017 we travelled to the Netherlands to visit leading-edge intergenerational buildings and initiatives. It was so inspirational. Then, later that same year, the St Monica Trust was chosen to be the setting for a groundbreaking social experiment filmed by CPL Productions for Channel 4. Old People’s Home for 4-Year-Olds showed how bringing together retirement community residents and pre-school children helped transform the lives of the participants for the better.

Young children carry a magical life force which is infectious

Intergenerational developments

The Chocolate Quarter retirement village, based in Keynsham is home to 136 retirement apartments and Charterhouse, a 93-bed care home.

“Instead of being islands of the elderly, innovative retirement communities create intergenerational connections to the benefit of us all.”

Michael Voges, Executive Director, ARCO

Within The Chocolate Quarter, there are a wide range of facilities including a pizzeria, health spa, cinema, hairdressers and nail bar that, prior to coronavirus were, open to the public to encourage intergenerational use and prevent the isolation of older people. This intergenerational blending has proven effective for the mental and physical well-being of our residents and has also been a great asset to the local community. When safe to do so, the doors of these facilities will reopen to the general public.

Explore The Chocolate Quarter retirement village

To find out more about The Chocolate Quarter, download a brochure or explore our available apartments, please visit our dedicated retirement village page.

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