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Ignite Imaginations in partnership with Sheffcare connected three primary schools with three care homes supporting older adults with dementia in Sheffield. 

The project brought children into the care homes to meet up with residents and together to take part in a range of creative activities, including crafts, movement and dance. As a result, the project helped increase well-being among residents and pupils, created inter-generational friendships, as well as helping inspire a Dementia-friendly next generation. It worked with 36 older people and 60 children. 

Adopt A Care Home built on what we learned from our earlier Sharing Our Lives project in Stannington. We were able to deliver the project thanks to funding from Sheffield City Council’s Dementia Innovation Fund. We aim to continue to develop our work in this area, bringing creativity to connecting people across generations and supporting the well-being of older people and people with dementia. 


For this project, we commissioned age-appropriate Dementia-Friends training from Sheffcare to help the children better understand dementia and the types of behaviour they might experience. This, along with powerful creative shared experiences, increased the children’s confidence when in the company of the residents and enabled positive interactions throughout each group. 


The project had really strong outcomes in reducing social isolation and increasing connections between people of different ages in communities. Having new people coming into the care homes widens the community within the care home setting for many residents who have limited or no visitors and little or no access to the outside world. 


At one of the care homes there was a woman with severe dementia and as a result, she regularly shouted out involuntarily; teachers and staff commented that it had been wonderful to watch the children grow in confidence around all of the residents but particularly those who presented ‘new’ behaviours to the children, where they were able to quickly adapt and were eager to come back. 

“It’s very easy to lose a sense of community when you live in a care home. This brings community in; children’s laughter and smiles make a big difference. For the children it keeps them in touch with older people and helps teach them respect of older people.” Participant

Our projects always aim to be asset-based and positive – focusing on what all participants can do, not what they can’t. Adopt A Care Home was no exception, with skilled and experienced artists keeping engaged with one particular care home and tailoring sessions to the specific needs and abilities of the residents. For example, one session involved movement and dance. Children and residents took it in turns to throw, roll and pass soft balls to one another including stretching, twisting and waving their arms, squeezing and releasing their hands, patting their knees. For the residents who were less able to do it themselves, children with the support of staff helped to put the soft balls into residents hands and squeeze them together. Similar activities were done with a variety of props which allowed for a greater sensory experience for all participants involved. These shared activities had an equally positive impact on children who felt empowered in helping their ‘new friends’ in the activity. 

Staff at the care homes reflections included “The way our residents get animated…I’ve never seen our residents move so fast. You can sort of see people, if they’ve been worried all morning about something, they come and join in with a group like that and they just forget about everything that has been worrying them, they’re just having fun at that time.” Burnt Tree Croft Care Home. 

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