First nursery to be opened at care home

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A care home in London will be opening a nursery on the same site in September. Apples and Honey Nightingale will be opening in the grounds of Nightingale House, with residents and children meeting for daily activities.

The nursery will be a 30-place full daycare setting and will be offering the 30 hours from September. Nightingale House is a home for elderly Jewish men and women, based in south west London and run by the charity Nightingale Hammerson.

Judith Ish-Horowicz, the head of of Apples and Honey nursery, said “It’s been my dream for a long time. Various circumstances got in the way, but I thought now is the time.”

She approached Ali Somers two and a half years ago; Ms Somers has a social enterprise background and her child attended the nursery and together they pitched the idea to the care home’s trustees.

“I’m so excited to get it going. Nightingale Hammerson could not have been more helpful and supportive.” Ms Ish-Horowicz said.

The nursery will offer full day care for children aged two to five, but this can also be extended to one- year- olds. It will be open 50 weeks a year from 7:30am to 6:30pm, except on Fridays where the nursery will close at 2pm to observe Shabbat.

The nursery will reserve 20 percent of places for Nightingale House staff.

Apples and Honey Nightingale is a Jewish-faith based setting, but is open to families of all faiths.

“We’re based in a Jewish care home so we can celebrate different festivals with the residents as well. Every week we will welcome the Shabbat with candles, and on Monday, the farewell ceremony, with spices and light. It brings back memories for the residents, with the same melodies and same smells.” Ms Ish-Horowicz said.

The residents and children will also eat snacks and meals together. “We will have the EYFS curriculum, but so many of those activities are inclusive.” Ms Ish-Horowicz said.

The nursery and care home have a long relationship – the nursery has been running a weekly baby and toddler group since January at Nightingale House but before this, Apples and Honey had been visiting the care home for about 15 years twice a term.

“They even loaned us a minibus to get there and back for crafts, activities and singing. It’s a really lovely thing, something that has grown – families have ‘adopted’ grannies and grandpas for residents who don’t have a family.” Ms Ish-Horowicz added.

Apples and Honey Nightingale is thought to be the first nursery co-located within a care home and to have planned inclusive activities.

“We believe it is the first of its kind,” Ms Ish-Horowicz said. “There are nurseries that have relationships with care homes, but this is the first time I’m aware of when the whole raison d’être is to have daily planned activities, particularly structured for children and residents together.” She added that she hopes it will become a model for other providers.

The care home houses around 200 residents; the average resident is in their 90s, with 10 per cent of them aged 100 or older.

The nursery will be based where the previous nurses’ quarters and maintenance building were. It will have its own garden area, where the residents will visit and help plant. There will also be a pet corner with rabbits and guinea pigs. 

Susan Cohen, director of external relations at Nightingale Hammerson, said of the recent launch party, “It was like a different place. It’s an open, fun environment. You can just feel the life in the air. It’s very special. The residents love the children. It’s been really collaborative, and it seems so obvious. You wonder why more places don’t do it.”

The nursery will try to make the curriculum intergenerational, where residents can join in with the activities, and the children and residents can spend time together every day. This will include activities like cooking and baking, doing exercise and movement classes, music and arts and crafts.

Denise Burke, co-director with Stephen Burke of United for All Ages, supports the idea of intergenerational care in the UK and sees the co-location of nurseries and care homes as a real opportunity.

The think-tank has been meeting with nursery groups, care providers, housing associations and local authorities to develop the idea of co-location in other areas.

Ms Burke said, “Potential sites have been identified and we’re looking more closely at the criteria that is needed.

“It’s more likely to be a care home provider or a social housing group that will be able to invite a nursery provider to come on board. Most nurseries don’t have the capacity – we’ll only get that with new developments.”

Around half a dozen potential sites have been identified. Meanwhile, nursery group Busy Bees is opening a new site in Chichester in August, next door to an Anchor care home. Torbay Council in Devon have plans for it to be an intergenerational care site.

United for All Ages have put together a basic outline of what is needed for assessment when analysing whether a care home could accommodate a nursery, this includes:

  • Location
  • Space requirement for 50- to 60-place nursery: minimum 600 square metres.
  • Would need to reconfigure space into age-appropriate rooms, toilets, office, staff room, etc
  • Car parking for staff and/or good public transport
  • Drop-off and pick-up access for parents
  • Access to shared catering or kitchen space
  • Outdoor space (can be shared but must be secure)
  • Business case: Is there demand for childcare?
  • Co-location
  • Potential support from residents for joint activities, etc.
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