PUPILS STRIKE A CHORD WITH DEMENTIA RESIDENTS

Pupils from St Budeaux Foundation School are hitting the high note with a series of visits to a Plymouth nursing home as part of a scheme that links local schools with people with dementia in the community.

In the first of the visits, Year 4 pupils called on residents at Freshfields for a sing-along concert with songs from yesteryear, followed by a second where youngsters paid their respects at the home as part of Remembrance Day commemorations.

Next month the children will be performing a carol concert at the Agaton Road service, with invitations for the residents to attend both the school Christmas play and the end-of-term carol concert at St Budeaux Church.

Freshfields’ activities co-ordinator, Paul Hutt, said: “The idea is to try and break down the fear and stigma attached to dementia by helping the youngsters understand the disease and how it affects people.

“This is the second year St Budeaux children have been coming to Freshfields and they always really enjoy themselves interacting with the residents and that feeling is reciprocated by the individuals who live here.

“They love being among young people and it gives them a real boost to sing along with some of the songs from their youth.”

The visits are part of West Country-based Reminiscence Learning’s Archie Project, a scheme that links local schools with people with living locally with dementia and promotes intergenerational awareness.

Head teacher Cathy Drage, said: “Developing relationships between the elderly and the young is beneficial for the wellbeing of both parties. Our pupils, as always, are delighted to meet the residents at Freshfields and have wonderful time.

“We live in a society where care of young and old is increasingly segregated, with very limited opportunity for the two age groups to interact, so schemes like the Archie Project are a wonderful way of spanning that divide.”

A research project by Exeter University has shown that children’s views about older people became more positive after taking part in the Archie Project, and their attitudes and intentions about how to treat older people with dementia became more inclusive and helpful.

The Archie Project is an awareness-raising project created to reduce the stigma and fear associated with the word dementia that links local primary schools, care homes, sheltered housing schemes, businesses, and community members.

Swedish designed and purpose built, Freshfields in Agaton Road, Plymouth, is a specialist 36-bed dementia care facility overlooks the Tamar Estuary.

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