Bringing children and older people together through food

The promotion of intergenerational relationships across preschool, school and care home settings. Author(s) Mat Jones, Sanda Umar Ismail

Journal title Working with Older People, vol 26, no 2, April 2022 Publisher Emerald, April 2022 Pages pp 151-161 Full text*

This paper aimed to explore how food-focused social activities are a route for promoting intergenerational relationships, wellbeing and dietary benefits among residents in care homes and children in preschool or schools.

Using a case study methodology, the study undertook staff-focused research on a 26-month UK programme in 12 partnership clusters, involving a range of growing, cooking, eating and community activities.

Staff reported benefits for older people, including improved mood, surfacing positive memories, new personal connections and relief from feelings of boredom and loneliness. Children were reported to develop in-depth relationships, greater empathy and overcame negative preconceptions about older people. Food-based activities enabled all parties to express caring and nurturing in tangible and often non-verbal ways. Food-based activities appear to have specific material and emotive characteristics that resonate with the intergenerational interests of older people and children.

Using mainly in-house resources, this study showed that it is feasible to generate novel food-based practices between children’s education and care home sectors. A ‘test-and-learn’ programme model is recommended, given sensitivities and complexity associated with food-based activities and the limited organisational capacity of care home and early education service providers.

Source: Centre for Policy on Ageing – Ageinfo220610234

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