'The children all look forward to seeing Nanny Joyce' - How volunteering at a nursery has transformed 85-year-old's health

PUBLISHED: 08:00 23 November 2017

85-year-old Joyce with the children of Highdale Day Nursery, she has dementia but the sessions benefit her and the children.

85-year-old Joyce with the children of Highdale Day Nursery, she has dementia but the sessions benefit her and the children.

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A Clevedon nursery inspired by the positive effects children can have on older people's health has invited an 85-year-old to volunteer.

85-year-old Joyce with the children of Highdale Day Nursery, she has dementia but the sessions benefit her and the children.85-year-old Joyce with the children of Highdale Day Nursery, she has dementia but the sessions benefit her and the children.

Joyce Stackhouse, who is known to the children as Nanny Joyce, has been visiting Highdale Day Nursery since September.

She has vascular dementia, and although she stays active, she cannot remember what she has done during the day and can be confused.

However, her granddaughter Claire Stackhouse, who works in the nursery in Highdale Avenue, says Joyce’s new volunteering role has greatly benefited the 85-year-old.

Claire said: “She doesn’t always remember names, but last week we had a new child start, and she said ‘that’s a new one’ and she recognised she hadn’t met them before.

85-year-old Joyce with the children of Highdale Day Nursery, she has dementia but the sessions benefit her and the children.85-year-old Joyce with the children of Highdale Day Nursery, she has dementia but the sessions benefit her and the children.

“It is good for me to see her when she is here. When I see her outside this environment, she can be more confused, but when she is with the children she rarely gets confused at all and it is really nice to see.

“Parents have been so supportive. Some people don’t have older people in their families, and it is nice for the children to have that relationship.”

Managers Lindsay Hall and Sarah Millard were inspired to invite Joyce to the nursery after watching a Channel 4 documentary where health professionals put a nursery into a residential home.

The results showed a vast improvement in the residents’ mental and physical health.

85-year-old Joyce with the children of Highdale Day Nursery, she has dementia but the sessions benefit her and the children.85-year-old Joyce with the children of Highdale Day Nursery, she has dementia but the sessions benefit her and the children.

Lindsay said: “Joyce is very sociable and thoroughly enjoys the company of others, especially children.

“The children look forward to their weekly visit from Nanny Joyce and have responded very well to having an older person in the setting.

“Joyce’s mobility has improved since she started visiting the nursery.

“She joins in with music and movement, even touching her toes. Joyce needed assistance when getting up from sitting on a chair, she can now do this independently.

“In the future we would like to expand on this and either invite more elderly people into the setting, or take a group of children to a residential home to continue the positive effect this experience has had on both the children and Nanny Joyce.”

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