A nursing home and a daycare centre under one roof! What a concept! It's not surprising that it works so well in Providence Mount St. Vincent in Seattle that they have a huge waiting list for their daycare and are now the subject of a documentary to be released next year. Children have a way of making people smile. They thrive on interaction and learning from others. They make the old feel young; helping them remember days gone by. They give us hope for the future and with any luck, will learn from mistakes of the past.
In a multi-generational setting, there is the ability to inject vitality into a place usually associated with illness and frailty. Young children interacting with seniors may even be the solution to combatting ageism. Imagine learning from seniors from a young age; an age where we see their value rather than negating their worth - would that not lead to a lifelong appreciation for older adults and their contribution to the world?
In the past, when multiple generations of one family lived under one roof, it was common for children to learn from their grandparents and have respect, understanding and patience for their elders. In today's world, families are scattered, often in different countries, if not cities and few children grow up living with, or even in close proximity to, grandparents. That most definitely impacts one's view of the older generation. The more we can encourage multi-generational interaction, respect and learning, the more the barriers created by age will be diminished.
Apparently, this type of a setting exists in Japan, Canada and the US, though since it is not something widespread enough to be common knowledge, one can only assume that it's on a smaller scale in other locations. When searching for information on these settings, the one that comes up repeatedly is Providence Mount St. Vincent but I do think that by and large it has more to do with the publicity about documentary than the concept.
That being said, now that 'the word it out' maybe it's time to start thinking about bringing this idea or innovation to more daycare centres and nursing homes. It seems that the results can only be positive, for all involved and society as a whole.