A bold experiment in intergenerational care

With growing numbers of elderly people, the pressure on public finances and the rising cost of childcare, it's no wonder research into new ways of providing care is on the increase.

There are nearly 625,000 people over 65 in Wales. A recent report by The Family and Childcare Trust revealed that over 6.4 million people aged 65 and over in Britain live in areas without sufficient care for older people to meet the demand.

Experts from Bangor University including Professor Bob Woods an international expert in psychosocial approaches worked with the Darlun production company to create a new programme, Hen Blant Bach, to be broadcast on 28 December. The programme is a new factual format for S4C, developed in partnership with Sony Pictures Television. It brings two unlikely generations together to share their day care in a centre for older people in North Wales.

In a unique opportunity, a temporary setting is created for pre-school children and older adults to share time, space and activities. Under the watchful eye of a two psychologists from Bangor University we see what happens when this age gap is bridged and the transformative effects this can have.

Thanks to specially rigged cameras the audience will hear every whisper and watch every move as the two groups become one. Do these two age groups have more in common than we think and could 'intergenerational care' be the way of the future?

As part of the experience, children from a nursery spent three days at the Day Centre to socialise, eat and take part in activities with older people.

"The results were amazing and we saw a really positive change in the older people during the week," says Arwyn Evans from Darlun production company who co-produced the programme with Clare Jones. "With an aging society and increased pressure on young families because of the cost of childcare, intergenerational care could be revolutionary."

Hen Blant Bach offers a unique glimpse into the life of the older people and characters who visit the day centre. Through the tears and laughter, we see that an opportunity to socialise with children offers much more than a means of facilitating the provision of care.

Mr Glyn Hughes, 84, of Caernarfon is a regular visitor to the day centre and he derived great benefits from the experience. As a result of a stroke fifteen years ago, he has trouble with his speech and he sometimes gets frustrated and angry with himself.

Although the staff at the Centre were worried about how children would respond, everyone was surprised by the results.  

Dr. Nia Williams a lecturer and researcher at Bangor University’s School of Education commented:

“From the children’s perspective, the three days experience was extremely valuable, not only did we see the children develop positive relationships with the elderly, which is an important life skill in itself, but we also saw the children grow in confidence as they worked together on various tasks.” 

Dr Catrin Hedd Jones a Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol Lecturer in Dementia at the University’s School of Healthcare Sciences said:

“The programme highlights the social and wellbeing benefits of intergenerational care. Older people have an opportunity to share lifelong skills and enjoy the company of children in a supportive environment.”

Elen Rhys, a programme commissioner at S4C, says, "The programme goes under the skin of one of the biggest challenges in today's society. But it's also is warm, full of emotion and proves the little things say great things. We are very proud of it."

Hen Blant Bach
Wednesday 28 December 8.25, S4C

English subtitles

Available to watch on-demand at s4c.cymru, BBC iPlayer and other platforms
A Darlun production for S4C in partnership with Sony Picture Television


Publication date: 22 December 2016