Forest Hill grows its partnership with local group of parents and their babies

Forest Hill residents Lilo Hellwig (left) and Vera Ellerington (right) spend time with one of the babies from Babies Who Volunteer.

Residents have taken to programming with Babies Who Volunteer so well the home has scheduled six months of regular visits

Forest Hill residents have benefited so much from visits with a group of babies and toddlers and their parents that the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home has scheduled regular visits with Babies Who Volunteer for the next six months.

Ottawa-based Babies Who Volunteer is a nonprofit organization that describes itself as “a network of babies and their caregivers, enriching the lives of seniors one baby at a time” on its website.

Forest Hill began scheduling visits with the group a few months back and the results have been so positive the home has signed on for more.

Babies Who Volunteer began as a Facebook page by founder Jessica Turner. The group would announce on Facebook which long-term care home the babies and parents would be visiting and parents and caregivers who were interested in participating could sign up to volunteer.

Forest Hill life enrichment co-ordinator Craig Forrest and the life enrichment team will gather about 10 to 20 residents together in a circle when the babies and toddlers are at the home.

Residents can hold the babies and play with them, which Craig says has had a noticeable impact on the seniors.

“You see the residents’ faces light right up,” he tells The OMNIway.

Craig notes that one surprising outcome from the visits has been interest from male residents. In the past, programs involving young children almost entirely drew female residents, he says.

“So many of our men are interacting with the babies … some of them do the baby talk and everything,” he says.

Aside from babies, there are also toddlers and young children who make visits with their parents. Craig notes that one girl, who is about 6 or 7, has been doing these visits she since was a baby.

“Sometimes kids can be a little nervous with older people, but you should see how well she interacts with the residents,” Craig says.

While Babies Who Volunteer is a nonprofit group, there is a $50 charge for visits to help the group maintain its administrative costs; however, if fewer than three babies show up with their parents the visit is free, Craig says.

“We have just been having them in for the past few months, but it is definitely something we’re going to continue on with,” he says.

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