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When a Preschool Was Opened Inside a Dementia Care Home, All Heaven Broke Loose

•, By Andy Corbley

Stimulation, learning, and fun—these are all activities that are known to delay the progression of dementia, and what better way to add these critical elements of life to a daily regimen than to let a flock of preschoolers do it?

Belong is a nonprofit operator of senior homes, specializing in dementia care. They have senior care villages in the country's northwest, and West Midlands regions. But this is the first to integrate children.

The pioneering facility supports older people to live their lives independently, with access to several shops and services on site. The UK charity Ready Generations partnered with Belong to run the village's day nursery.

Children feature in the daily life of residents and tenants, enjoying experiences together including shared mealtimes, stories, arts and crafts, and exercise.

Recently, Belong welcomed the Lord Mayor of Cheshire, Sheila Little, to declare the latest village in the county officially open, though it's been operating since last year. "This is a particularly exciting and innovative development as it includes a nursery, which benefits both the children who attend and the residents," said Little.

Breaking the mold of more 'traditional' care environments, the $24.5 million, state-of-the-art village incorporates six family-sized 24-hour care households, 23 independent living apartments, as well as the children's nursery.

Centered around a vibrant hub of amenities, including a bistro, hair salon, and specialist exercise studio, the site is open to the public, creating a bustling environment with customers from the local community.

Belong Chester is the eighth village in the dementia specialist's group and its fourth in Cheshire County, with its other sites in the Cheshire municipalities of Crewe, Macclesfield, and Warrington.