ENGAGE - Playing at nursing homes

Target groups

Older adults living in nursing homes and parents to young children participating in playgroups in Aarhus Municipality.

Stakeholders

The head of the initiative “Playing at nursing homes”, 5-10 nursing homes currently involved in the initiative under Aarhus Municipality, and Center for Healthy Aging.

Aim

Strengthening intergenerational engagement and unlocking resources among older adults in nursing home settings.

While an increasing proportion of older adults are actively engaged in a wide range of activities in immediate and wider social relationships, those who live in nursing home settings are more at risk of being isolated and framed as recipients of care rather than resourceful members of society. To enhance healthy aging, more opportunities and supportive environments are needed that enable older adults - irrespective of whether they live in nursing homes or not - to be and do what they value throughout their lives. Meaningful identities, motivation and hope are often nurtured through interactions with others, not least across generations, with mutual benefit for older and younger people alike.

In 2016, an initiative entitled “Playing at nursing homes” (in Danish: Leg på plejehjem) was started by a young woman on maternity leave. The rationale behind the initiative rests on a hypothesis that mothers/fathers on maternity/paternity leave – and their offspring – may benefit from engaging with older adults in nursing homes who in turn will also experience enhanced quality of life, vitality and meaningfulness when engaging with younger generations. Therefore, weekly “playgroups” - traditionally taking place among groups of mothers/fathers in their own homes - are relocated to local nursing homes and older adults are actively taking place in activities that include singing, playing, talking and taking care of the babies that are attending the weekly events.

Through close collaboration between the head of the project, participants and CEHA researchers, we document and strengthen this unique grass-root driven healthy aging intervention that may then later be implemented in other nursing homes to the benefit of younger and older generations alike.

Associate professor and research group leader Maria Kristiansen is head of the project.