Coopersale & Theydon Garnon C.E. (V.C) Primary School
The former Theydon Garnon School was founded in 1850 by the church to provide education according to the principles of the Church of England. In September 1970 the school was moved into its new premises in the village of Coopersale and has since been called Coopersale and Theydon Garnon C.E. (Vol.Cont.) Primary School. Church Schools are part of the nation’s maintained system of education and are operated in partnership with the Local Education Authority. Each school has a Governing Body which is responsible for the school and on which the Church, local authorities, parents, teachers and staff are represented. The aim of all church schools is to provide the best possible education for each child within the context of a caring Christian environment. Children attend assemblies and take part in daily acts of worship. Children visit the church and members of the local clergy visit the school and work in the classrooms and lead assemblies. The staff and pupils are involved in events organised by the two local parishes which are held both at school and at the village church St Albans. These include Christmas and Easter Celebrations and an introduction to the service of communion. Our school embraces the Christian ethos and our moral and spiritual values are reflected in the inter–personal relationships within the school community.
- 24 January 2021
- Local Alliances:
- Epping Forest Dementia Action Alliance (EFDAA)
1. Action Plan
1. The National Dementia Declaration lists seven outcomes that the DAA are seeking to achieve for people with dementia and their carers. How would you describe your organisation’s role in delivering better outcomes for people with dementia and their carers?
- We are holding weekly ‘virtual sessions’ with our local nursing home over TEAMS. Each class ‘meets’ with the home once a half term and they either present some of the work they have been doing in class, read to the residents, get read to by the residents or hold a quiz; children will then have opportunity to chat with the residents after, asking them questions about their lives and giving them the opportunity to reminisce. The home is told in advance what each week’s virtual session will entail and if it is children presenting work, they will know what subject they will be discussing. Residents can choose whether to attend the virtual session and can be catered to their interests. For example, if Art is being shown, residents with an art interest can be invited to the session. There will be no pressure to attend. Last year, year 3 and 4 (approx. 75 pupils) visited the care home (over 2 sessions) as part of their learning journey. They had chance to interview the residents and their families about their lives and each resident had the opportunity to opt in or out of these sessions.
- Care and nursing homes have not been able to have visitors during lockdown so may be feeling lonelier that normal – holding virtual sessions aims to help combat loneliness among the residents and the school hopes to be a lifeline to those vulnerable people in our local area whilst simultaneously teaching our youngest generation how to be sympathetic, empathetic, kind individuals towards others. We understand how important it is in this current climate that communities come together and support each other and when human interaction is a basic need, as a school, staff are happy to come together with their classes to do all we can to support those in our local nursing home.
- Residents living with dementia everyday reality often reverts to a time when they were mothers and fathers with young children or have grandchildren themselves. They are often all excited to have children around them as they are ‘living’ in a time when children would have been a large part of their daily routine and experiences with children can help relive those moments. Children appear to have a natural ability to adapt their behaviour around those living with dementia and are often a gentle yet lively and excitable addition to homes that help feed that energy to residents and bring a smile to their faces.
- Children, if taught correctly, strive to be kind and considerate human beings. Getting old is a natural part of the aging process and they need to understand that it is nothing to fear, and that although becoming frailer, and with the possibly getting certain conditions such as dementia, it does mean that older people are not to be valued or ignored. These virtual sessions are an easy way to get children used to interacting with elderly people, understand any symptoms that may be displayed, why they are occurring and how this doesn’t detract from the people they once were. It encourages youngsters to support those living with dementia and know they just wanted to be treated with the same dignity and respect as everyone else.
- Residents are still able to interact with their local community – with the local school being an ongoing link. There has already been 4 visits in person last year, and hopefully as the home has plans for a day-centre for lower physical needs dementia, more trips will be able to occur to visit the home and arrange activities whereby residents and children work together. For Remembrance Day, each class in the school made extra poppies to be made into a poppy cross that was donated to the home and they joined us with the local church for a Remembrance Service. At Christmas, every resident is given a handmade card from the children; last year these were delivered in person with 2 carol services sung by the children which will hopefully be a reoccurring occasion once Covid restrictions are eased. Residents will know that the children are thinking of them at key times throughout the year and that they are not forgotten, that they are valued and we are thankful for what they have contributed to society in throughout their lives.
- Although research is ongoing, as of yet as there is no cure and numbers are ever increasing, it is important that we inform the younger generation of what dementia is and give them reassurance about how to communicate and value those living with dementia and stop the stigma associated with it. By working closely with the home, it will normalise the situation and children will learn to treat the elderly generation with respect and kindness, key life skills for them but also giving those living with dementia a better quality of life knowing that the future generation are supporting them through their journey.
2. What are the challenges to delivering these outcomes from the perspective of your organisation?
- Children do not know about dementia; potential negative experiences may occur in the home during the visit or during virtual meets and they may get distressed/upset if residents display challenging behaviours without understanding why this is happening.
- Time – difficult to fit in all lessons in the National Curriculum and work with the home.
- Teacher’s do not have much knowledge/experience of dementia – can be nervous about leading class sessions with their classes and not know what to expect or how to answer questions or explain any situations to children.
Give the 3 classes an assembly style lesson (training style) to discuss what dementia is in child-friendly terms
Discuss what to expect when visiting, how to talk to people with dementia, reasons why a resident might be displaying aggression and how to keep out of the way and understand that they are just confused and it’s nothing to do with the children or to be worried about as carers/staff will always be accompanying us.
Use the training to link to their own feelings and compare how they would feel if they were in the resident’s position/mindset so they could empathise and understand the situation without judgement.
Link to ‘Zones of Regulation’
Link to ‘Zones of Regulation’ (different human emotions are grouped into Blue, Green, Yellow and Red) and get children to understand that everyone can get out of the ‘green zone’ and that blue, yellow or red behaviours just mean they need some time to calm back down and it’s no different to us being in a different zone colour.
- Planning, Investigating
Link with the National Curriculum
Link to as many subjects within the National Curriculum so the link if beneficial and essential to the learning and give a purpose to the visit – English, History, Geography, Science, Art, Music, PSHE links.
Virtual sessions – each class to be involved with the project on a rota basis. Sign up weekly with their choice of activity.
No teacher feels under too much pressure to find the time every week to talk to the residents as they only have to commit to one week every half term which is achievable and doesn’t take out too much time from other lessons.
- Delivery, Planning
Support to be offer to all staff during each session
All sessions are during my PPA time so I can go into class and assist if need be – will need to wear a mask so as not to break the bubble.
All staff will have had the same level of basic training and the opportunity to ask any questions they may have, reassurance of how to deal with any potentially awkward situations and understand how to explain dementia in child-friendly terms if anyone in their class asks any questions.
- Delivery, Planning
Dementia Friends Information Sessions for staff
All teachers and management staff to become ‘Dementia Friends’.
1 online group information session was carried out in December 2020. Further sessions will be scheduled for any new starters or refresher when required.
- Delivered, Delivery
Attend Epping Forest DAA meetings
To regularly attend and participate in Epping Forest DAA meetings as well as support any steering groups associated with the work at the school such as the intergenerational project.