New Brunswick

Quispamsis nursing home doubles as day camp to benefit kids and elderly

A seniors' home in Quispamsis is offering up a different kind of summer camp that encourages middle school children to interact with the elderly.

Seniors' home staff say summer camp recreates a sense of family between older and younger generations

Kings Way Care Centre in Quispamsis is offering a summer camp that encourages middle school children to interact with the elderly. (CBC News)

A seniors' home in Quispamsis is offering up a different kind of summer camp that encourages middle school children to interact with the elderly.

"It's about bringing two unlikely groups together and they form a friendship," said Megan O'Hara, the community development co-ordinator at Kings Way Care Centre.

Staff say the young campers soon learn to recognize and respond to the needs of residents who may have dementia, physical limitations, or both. 
Megan O'Hara, community development coordinator at Kings Way Care Centre in Quispamsis. (CBC News)

"They need help walking," said eight-year-old camper, Meredith Hoyt. "They need help pulling their wheelchair and they need help eating breakfast, lunch and supper."

High school graduate Logan Rousselle is working as the senior camp counsellor before he starts a nursing program in September.

He says the children have an immediate and positive impact on the emotional well-being of the residents. 

"It kind of brings happiness and joy [be]cause the kids are always running around and having fun and being happy…it kind of helps the atmosphere," he said. 

The New Brunswick Nursing Home Association recognized the camp with its 2015 Life Enhancement Award.

"This was a new and innovative idea," said executive director Michael Keating.

The camp is unique in New Brunswick, but Keating says intergenerational programs are expected to play a larger role in future nursing care.   

He points to other examples in the province where nursing homes are trying to bring children into the environment, such as Loch Lomond Villa in Saint John, which has a built-in daycare. 
8-year-old camper Meredith Hoyt helps water the plants at Kings Way Care Centre. (CBC News)

"The research says the benefits for both groups, you can't even measure. There's too many to even name," said O'Hara, who has a master's degree in gerontology.

The program at Kings Way Care Centre can accommodate eight campers per week. Staff say they keep the groups small, so residents aren't overwhelmed.

Activities include gardening, swimming, bowling and scavenger hunts.

The program runs daily from 8:30 until 4:30 and enrolment costs $125 per week.

The target age group is grades three through six, and counsellors-in-training are welcome from grades seven through nine.

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