Pioneering nursery at residential home bridges generation gap

Residents at a south London home are reaping the benefits of youthful company


Not having children is the “greatest regret” of Nightingale House resident John Rich, 92.

So he was delighted to be the focus of four-year-old Amelia’s attention at the opening of the Apples and Honey Nursery on the care home’s Clapham site.

The pioneering venture has been designed to bring young and old together.

It is the second branch of Apples and Honey, which has operated since 1991 at Wimbledon and District (Reform) Synagogue.

Sitting in on a mother and toddler group, Mr Rich was “amazed at the amount of activities on offer” — and the opportunities for residents to engage with the children.

“Not having children is one of the unfortunate things in my life but this morning has been fantastic,” he said.

“It is so enjoyable playing with the children. It is lovely to watch them do their own thing.”

He especially liked singing The Penguin Song with Amelia, who would not let go of his hand as they both performed the actions directed by the lyrics.

“It reminds you that you were like that once — we all were,” Mr Rich said.

The 30-place nursery is operating in a renovated building at the bottom of the Nightingale garden, to which a playground has been added. The Apples and Honey intake is around 60 per cent Jewish.

Co-founder Ali Somers was excited by the therapeutic benefits at both ends of the age spectrum. “It is a great way to bring the young and the old together,” she said.

“We have developed a programme where the interaction will happen at least once a day through different activities.

“It might be singing or cooking or residents visiting the nursery to play. We are very proud of it.”

For Stephanie Moore, attending the mother and baby group, the nursery’s inter-generational aspect was a big selling point.

“My grandmother was in a home like this one and I think it is a lovely idea. It is great for the residents to feel inspired by the energy that new and young life brings.

“I live around the corner so it is incredibly easy for me to visit. And when [daughter] Isla is older, it would make a great nursery for her.”

Although not Jewish, she was familiar with “the amazing way Nightingale is run” and assumed Apples and Honey would be no different. “As a new parent, you want to take your children to places that are run properly and where they will be looked after.”

Another goal of the nursery is to improve the work-life balance of Nightingale staff.

Explained co-founder Judith Ish-Horowicz: “We want the staff here to think of us as a good place to send their children. And who doesn’t want an easier way of getting their children to nursery?”

Silvia Pedzisi’s husband is the director of care at the home. She attended the mother and toddler group with her son, having dropped off her daughter at nursery for the first time.

“I think it is great, not only for the care home but for the children, too,” she said. “It is a great way of socialising them and giving them people to play with.

“The grounds are lovely and there is so much on offer for them to do because of the facilities here.

“When we have been attending the mother and baby groups on a Monday he loves it and the old folks love it, too.”

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