Community centre of the future
Different generations that are dancing, moving and sporting together in the open air. This extraordinary combination has become a reality at Florence residential care centre Houthaghe, located in Den Haag. In the Netherlands, the lives of the youth and of the elderly usually do not cross each other very often. These two worlds are just completely different from each other. The interactive play and sports field aims to bring these two generations together. Bernadette Michels, district manager and initiator of the square: “We really want the youth from this neighbourhood to be involved with our health facility.”
She goes on to say:”The youth can ‘chill’ in our indoor facility and we try to challenge the youth at our exciting outdoor facility. As a positive result of this, young people feel socially involved in our care centre and start to chat, or go for a walk with one of the seniors. The contact between both groups is improving and the mutual understanding between these two generations enlarges significantly. Youngsters at a residential care centre does not surprise anybody anymore!”
Mixing Mozart with Armin van Buuren
A very special eye catcher at the square is the Fono DJ-table. This concrete DJ-table challenges people to play music, to alter it with effects and to share the results with their smartphone. The DJ-table is mainly aimed at triggering youth to visit the square at Houthaghe. However, it also enables seniors to try DJ-ing for once! Bernadette Michels: “It would be great if the youth manages to meet the seniors in this way. Imagine modern music of populair DJs being mixed with classical music of Mozart! Currently, many seniors who love music even own an Ipad and know how to work with the internet. So why not?
Fitness for seniors
Houthaghe aims to make a connection between young and old people with every playset they have installed at the field. For instance, both the Fono, the DJ-table, and the orange dancing arch Sona are suitable for young and old. The facilities are aimed at the seniors, the young people but also the adults from the neighbourhood, and the local child day care. The municipality of Den Haag wants to provide the neighbourhood with the opportunity to sport and live an active lifestyle in a responsible manner out in the open air. Therefore, besides the Fono and the Sona, fitness equipment is also installed at the field.
Bernadette Michels tells us about a very special experience at Houthaghe: “One of our residents has Parkinson-dementia. Although he has always lived an active and sportive life, he is currently most of the time in a wheelchair, and he has a hard time speaking clearly. However, as soon as he starts to work out on the cross trainer, his speaking improves significantly. Which has a very positive effect on the man himself, but also on his caregiver since the man has a great sense of humour. It also provides our resident with an opportunity to socialise without making a major effort.”
“ Besides the fact that the interactive playfield is easily accessible for people that want to be active, and want to have fun outside, it is also a great meeting place for people that want to socialize and meet new people. Not only can seniors meet other seniors, the interactive field also provides the opportunity to socialize within different generations! Therefore, the field perfectly fits the view of the national government; to improve mutual understanding between generations and to increase participation of society.
Sagar Koerban, a young-adolescent, is convinced that both young and old can learn from each other, and that the interactive field can be a great occasion to do so. Koerban, raised in Houtwijk, noticed that many prejudices about elderly exist within the youth. “Elderly people were afraid of us when we were chilling and hanging around on the streets, they tried to avoid us, although we never did anything wrong. We felt very annoyed by that, and that is why we thought it would be interesting to get in touch with the elderly. That will give us an opportunity to show them that we are just human, and they do not need to fear us when they go grocery shopping.”
Bernadette Michels completely agrees with Sagar Koerban. “I would love for our seniors to be able to stay in touch with the world outside of our facility through the youth. At the same time, this would offer the youth the opportunity to get advice from people that have already gained so many different life experiences. I am thrilled that I can help realizing these goals. The interactive playsets trigger the youth to come to Houthaghe. It is only a small contribution, but it really makes the world a little bit better.
Elderly have become more tolerant towards the youth, and they have realized that these young kids do not have bad intentions at all. At the same time, these kids allow the elderly to stay in touch with the world outside the facility. I believe it is very import to prevent residential care homes to become isolated places full of people with grey hair. With the help of the youth, we are able to do this!
Nothing but praise!
“I cannot do anything but praise our collaboration with Yalp. The play sets at our field are all unique, inspiring and you can see that Yalp has really thought of everything. Furthermore, Yalp has offered excellent support during the entire process, from the moment of sale untill the actual instalment. I know that I can always call Yalp, and that they will handle every question or suggestion in a very positive manner, and make sure we find the best solution. Definitely a recommendation!”
Florance – health and care organization, The Netherlands