AN 85-YEAR-OLD former playgroup leader has been given a “new lease of life” thanks to a children’s nursery visits to her care home.

Brenda Hipsey used to run a playgroup in Burnham and has had her passion for childcare re-ignited by a project set up by a Bradwell care home.

Down Hall has arranged for children from local nursery Diddydots to visit the home once a week so its residents can spend time with the children.

Brenda said: “Helping with the children has given me a purpose again.

“It’s reignited my old passion for childcare and given me a new lease of life.

“Each time they visit I wait in reception ready to greet the children.”

The nursery children - aged three and four - take part in simple activities with residents, such as painting, colouring, reading and dancing, and eat lunch together.

Many of the residents have formed bonds with the children since the project started in September.

Although it initially began as a pilot, home manager Karen Johnson hopes the visits will continue in the long term.

She said: “It’s lovely to see the residents taking an active role in the project.

“Brenda and three-year-old Hunter have developed such a close bond over the last few weeks.

“He’s not been here for the last couple of sessions, but on his return went straight up to Brenda to tell her how much he’d missed her.”

Resident Arthur Parkes, 90, said: “It brings a smile to my face to spend time with the little ones - they are so full of energy.”

Freda Howard, 95, said: “Its lovely to have the children come into our home – it brings a bit of sparkle.

“It makes my day seeing how much fun they are having.”

A study by Age UK claims these types of interactions can decrease mental decline among older people, lower their blood pressure and even reduce the risk of disease or death.

Karen added: “Residents love taking part. There’s always a buzz in the home when the children visit.

“It’s a lot of fun and there’s lots of smiling and laughter.

“We’ve seen a significant improvement in mood over the last few weeks with residents saying they feel happier and more energised.

“We also find that both the residents and children eat more when they share lunch together.”