Inspiring experiences of the communal everyday life of the service community
Hoivatilat is currently constructing a service property in the Housing Fair area in Lohja. The service community, implemented in accordance with Hoivatilat’s Dream Service Community concept, combines early childhood education with housing and care services for the elderly. The community will also include restaurant services.
Pilke Daycare Centres will provide the day care services, whilst Attendo will run the nursing home and restaurant operations. The same parties have operated in adjacent buildings owned by Hoivatilat in Lahti for over five years: Attendo Vallesmanni offers round-the-clock care for the elderly, whilst 80 children aged 12 months to 6 years attend the Pilke music day care centre Onnimanni.
The day care centre and the nursing home have collaborated systematically and regularly from the very beginning, and the side-by-side location has provided great stimulation to the everyday life of both units. Before the coronavirus epidemic, the children of Onnimanni visited Vallesmanni every week and shared celebrations were also organised.
Active co-existence was recognised in 2015, when Tapaseura ry presented the parties with the annual Good Manners Act award for their collaboration. Director of Onnimanni Maisa Jokinen says that at that time, when the day care centre had only just been established, lifecycle thinking and this kind of collaboration between two operators was a relatively new concept. She is pleased that it has since then become more common.
Collaboration is a great addition to the early childhood education provided by Onnimanni. It teaches the children tolerance and respect for the elderly. In many families, grandparents live far away. The location of the day care centre and the nursing home next to each other has enabled interaction between children and senior citizens, says Jokinen.
The collaboration starts, quite literally, at the grassroots level: the inner yard constitutes a courtyard that is divided into two by a fence. The children can, however, visit the nursing home side under supervision. A few years ago, the parents’ association of the day care centre implemented a street painting project where lane markings, parking spaces, and a pedestrian crossing were painted on the asphalt surfacing of passageways that cut through the lawn on the nursing home side of the yard. Children move in the traffic city of the courtyard by using their kick scooters and the parking spaces can accommodate both small bicycles and walkers.
Due to the focus on music of the day care centre, it was natural that the weekly visits of the children to the nursing home became musical. All groups, starting with the youngest ones, take turns to perform in the nursing home on a weekly basis. According to the director of Attendo Vallesmanni Anne Manninen, the residents look forward to the visits and the shared courtyard is a refreshing element in their life.
The children and the seniors can say hello to each other whilst outdoors, either across the fence or during organised activities. The seniors enjoy seeing the small children and are able to watch them play and be active. It refreshes the mind, even when they lack the energy to participate themselves.
During the visits, the seniors and the children sing and play together, often related to an upcoming holiday or some other theme. The seniors and the children have, for example, planted Easter grass and made Christmas decorations together, as well as played an orienteering game in the courtyard. Maisa Jokinen from Onnimanni states that the shared Finland 100 celebration has been one of the highlights of the collaboration:
– We had a lovely celebration in a nearby church. The entire day care centre, the parents of the children, and the residents of the nursing home with their loved ones all participated. I hope that we will soon again be able to organise shared celebrations and interact more also in everyday life.
Anne Manninen from Attendo says that the opportunity to enhance the understanding of the children, as regards being part of the chain of generations, is very significant.
– Children see that there is nothing strange about the elderly. Even when a person has reduced mobility or problems with producing speech, their mind can be clear. Children learn that old people are valuable and that is it pleasant to interact with them. Our collaboration is a great resource for both units.
Encouraged by the excellent experiences, Attendo and Pilke are looking forward to their collaboration in the new service community in Lohja that will enable the children and the seniors to share their everyday life.
The shared functions mentioned in the text refer to the time before the coronavirus pandemic.