Intergenerational project brings farm animals to Charing Cross

02 May 2019

Intergenerational project brings farm animals to Charing Cross
Chicks, rabbits, guinea pigs and lambs are the last thing you’d expect to see in a hospital environment but last week they took over the Charing Cross Hospital Garden as part of a pioneering initiative to support elderly care.

Animals from Vauxhall City Farm were the latest participants in the Intergenerational Care Project, funded by the charity, which aims to show that spending time with children can help older patients feel happier and less isolated during their hospital stay.

The patients were joined by children from a local school and together they were able to hold and stroke the animals while also learning all about them.

Dr Charlotte Lance, who is running the project alongside the dementia team, said: “Animals are well known to have beneficial therapeutic effects and it was lovely to see the interactions between the children and the patients as they enjoyed the shared experience of petting the animals but also the huge impact that animals can have on patients and children individually.

“Since we started running the intergenerational care project we have seen benefits for our patients including improved mood, compliance with medications and eating as well as reduced agitation and social isolation. It’s incredible to see.”

According to Dr Lance, it’s not only the patients that are benefitting – it’s made a big difference for the children too:

“Some of the children’s confidence levels have improved significantly. They are far less anxious and more comfortable with talking to the patients and staff.

“They are also learning about the hospital environment and medical conditions such as dementia, learning difficulties, reduced mobility and amputations.”

The 12-month project began in August last year and was funded by a £60,000 grant to cover Dr Lance’s salary and the running costs. It’s believed to be the first active intergenerational activities project to be carried out within an acute hospital setting.

The Wallace Collection and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama are among the community organisations collaborating with the Trust to develop activities for the parties.

Are you a member of staff at the Trust who attended the visit? Click here to complete our 3 minute survey and help us understand the project's impact on staff and patients.