Friendship project between primary school and care home in Northampton comes to successful end

Edna, Amani and Pearse pictured today at St Christopher's Care Home with the chicks.
Edna, Amani and Pearse pictured today at St Christopher's Care Home with the chicks.

A five-week project between a care home and school has finally drawn to a close today as their Easter chicks hatched in time to say goodbye.

The five-week 'Book End Project' was rolled out at the start of March at St Christopher's Care Home in a bid to build friendships between the older residents and reception pupils at Bridgewater Primary School.

Amani, 5, helped Edna to stroke and hold the little chick.

Amani, 5, helped Edna to stroke and hold the little chick.

The new scheme included the same 10 children, aged four and five years old, and 10 care home residents, aged between 84 and 99 years old, and today came to a close as their six fluffy Easter chicks hatched in time for a cuddle.

The Project - which gets its name from the different ends of the age spectrum - was evaluated for both groups from beginning to end.

Sarah Clarke, manager of St. Christopher's Care Home, says she has really seen the interactions between the older and younger generation have a positive impact on her residents.

She said: "It's been absolutely remarkable - some of our residents were more able and alert and some of our residents have slight memory difficulty but they remembered the children were here the week before.

Amani, pictured by Kirsty Edmonds.

Amani, pictured by Kirsty Edmonds.

"It's had a positive effect on mood and general wellbeing - it's given residents something to look forward to. I think they will be quite disappointed today as it's the last session.

"It's been really amazing and the residents have loved every moment of it. It's been so worthwhile."

The scheme has seen the children play parachute games with the residents, learn new songs, watch their chicks hatch and they threw 84-year-old Tony Austin a big birthday party.

Jess Wise, Early Years lead teacher at Bridgewater Primary School, said the children have become more confident.

The children have been waiting 21 days for their eggs to hatch and they met the six chicks this afternoon.

The children have been waiting 21 days for their eggs to hatch and they met the six chicks this afternoon.

"It's been a wonderful project to be involved in," she said. "For us at Bridgewater, it's had a real ripple effect - the children come back and they share the experience with their friends at school, they go home and talk to their parents and their parents come in and talk to the teachers."

"They present to other children when they come back. It's improved wellbeing, increased self-awareness and awareness of other people as well.

"The children live in Abington, the home is in Abington, it's part of their community. Now they all want to come to the events here."

There will be three stages of evaluation for the St. Christopher's residents who will have a questionnaire to complete and the care home will evaluate how their answers change over the five-week period. For those who cannot fill in a questionnaire, their progress will be reported by observation by the care home manager, Sarah.

The primary school will be completing entry and exit observations to feed back how children have engaged with their language and communications.