Grey hair and wrinkled skin at 40?

by Claire Ramsay

 

Well, at least that’s how one of the pupils in Braidbar Primary school described older age. So why on earth would the team from Tomorrow’s Older People put themselves in the firing line of twenty-two 9-10 year olds? We wanted to hear what tomorrow's generation thought our caring homes could be like. We wanted them to share their unbiased and unfiltered vision of older age and caring. These young people were inquisitive, enthusiastic and showed real maturity and understanding about the subject of caring for people. They are a real credit to the school and their families.

 

During the workshop the children created an empathy map by drawing an imagined older person and considered questions like, who is this person talking to, how are they feeling today, what is around them at home. They moved on to actually building a model of where they would like their older person to live, bringing alive their thoughts and ideas.

 

Through our conversations we were able to identify that the environment was really important; the kids wanted lots of light, cosy furniture, bright colours, access for people to get outdoors and for animals to be indoors. Is this something we consider in our current caring homes? If we visit an older relative who has lived in their house for 40+ years, do we notice it needs a lick of paint, or the furniture is past its best or are we more focused on the practicalities of making sure medicine has been taken? Do we start to visit people because we feel we have to, instead of because we have an emotional connection with them?

 

Emotional connections were also very important to the children. They demonstrated this by drawing connections with another person or a beloved pet. Being able to learn what’s new in the world from a younger family member or chatting to an old friend was a reason to be happy.

 

Our next steps are to showcase the outstanding models and stories contained within the empathy maps with organisations and individuals who currently provide care, whether that be in the home or residential settings. We’d also love to connect with house builders to share our learning and ideas about how we can all shape our caring homes of the future.

 

Download the 'Caring Homes of The Future' report (PDF).