The project started in April 2016. P6 children from Glinahirk Primary School completed Dementia Awareness training delivered by the multi-tasking Manager of Kirk House, Andrea Selby. The children were proud to receive Dementia Friend badges and certificates in recognition of this. They then took part in an arts project with the residents, meeting in school and in the care home, since they are just 10 minutes walk away from each other. Participants of all ages commented how much they enjoyed seeing the smiling faces of each other. School Principal, Mr Harrison, sees the project as a great way to ‘de-mystify’ both the care home and school environment – two spaces that tend to exclude other people and other age groups and commented ‘I think we should continue with this, we could easily do it, it doesn’t have to cost anything.’
The second part of the project has seen Kirk House link up with Tullycarnet Youth Group. The younger participants took part in dementia awareness training firstly and then engaged with the older residents of Kirk House in a series of reminiscence sessions using memory boxes supplied by the Ulster Museum. The project ended with a celebratory fashion show held at Kirk House with vintage fashions dashingly modeled by many of the participants of both generations!
The final part of the project will see Kirk House make new links with Our Lady and St Patrick’s College and the final celebration event will be in the new year.
We are really keen to continue to learn from the experience of this project and develop our ideas, many of which are based on conversations and meetings with promoters of the ‘My Home Life’ initiative here in NI and across the UK, that have taken place over the last 18 months or so. We really hope that learning from this project will help us to build this project and attract income to develop it across NI. We want every school and care home to be connected!
The success of this project led to LGNI being runners up in the UTV People’s Projects Awards and this created the opportunity to set up and co-ordinate the delivery of an additional 3 Connecting Care Homes Projects; involving linking up pupils to their local Nursing/Care Home. Projects involved creative activities using multiple mediums. All pupils received a Dementia Awareness/Dementia Friends training session in preparation for meeting and engaging with the residents. Being more aware has also helped them in their interactions with the older members of their families and neighbours.
Taking part were:
• Glencarron Nursing Home & St. Patrick’s Primary School /Gaelscoil Phàdraig Naofa (Irish language school) Crossmaglen involving 12 pupils and 14 residents
13 pupils and 1 staff member completed Dementia Awareness/Dementia Friend training
• Spelga Mews Care Home & Bridge Integrated Primary School, Banbridge involved 18 pupils and 12 residents.
58 pupils plus 4 staff completed Dementia Awareness/Dementia Friend training
Both of these Art Projects were facilitated by Sticky Fingers Arts
• Gillaroo Lodge, & Roddensvale School, Larne involved 10 residents and 12 students and was facilitated by the school’s art teacher.
24 pupils and 6 school staff plus 15 care home staff completed Dementia Awareness/Dementia Friend Training.