Play garden aims to make care homes more inviting for all generations

Children will be begging their parents to visit older relatives this autumn thanks to a pioneering partnership between Hallmark Care Homes Foundation and London Play. The play charity will be unveiling what is hoped to be the first of many ‘Play Gardens’ at multi-award-winning care provider, Hallmark’s newest care home Midford Manor, when it opens in Bath later this year.

Announced to coincide with Global Intergenerational Week, the Play Garden will offer a perfect setting for children and older people to come together in joy following more than two years of the Covid-19 pandemic. Shaped by future care home residents and local children, the design of the garden will be inspired in part by memories of residents’ own childhood play experiences. Children will also be involved, with a “Design Your Own Playground” competition for schools running throughout this spring.

Older people’s reminiscences will be captured in an illustrated ‘Book of Midford Manor Play Memories’, to be housed within the play structure for older residents to read to younger visitors to the play garden.

It is hoped that the Midford Manor Play Garden will be the first of many such play gardens to feature in care homes across the country – bringing wide-ranging benefits to young and old alike. It is widely accepted that children who regularly mix with older people see improvements to their language development, reading and social skills, while older people are less likely to suffer loneliness and will experience better physical and mental health.

Paul Hocker, director, London Play said: “Every future Play Garden will have the imprint of childhoods past while offering a new generation a place to create their own play memories, in the company of their much-loved older family members.”

Stephen Burke, CEO of Hallmark Foundation said: “We are delighted to fund London Play to create the country’s first Play Garden. It will promote intergenerational interaction in the new care home and encourage a family friendly environment where children will love visiting their older relatives. It’s a win-win for all generations and we hope it will encourage other care homes to use their outdoor space creatively.”

General Manager of Midford Manor Care Home, Carol Britton said: “A Play Garden will be invaluable to our residents and their families, it will encourage families to come more often and the visit will be a more pleasant and enjoyable one.  We are delighted that Hallmark are pushing the boundaries and raising the bar and that we will have the opportunity to add a new and exciting level of innovative engagement to and with our local community. Making care homes accessible and inviting for all generations is absolutely imperative.”

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