A nursing home in Japan is recruiting babies to raise the spirits of the home’s residents. According to CNN, when Gondo Kimie, director of the Moyai Seiyukai elderly care home in Kitakyushu, Japan, noticed how the home’s residents cheered up when her grandchildren visited, it gave her a great idea. She started distributing flyers around the neighborhood looking for new moms who would bring their babies into the home to cheer up the elderly residents.
Over the last year, the program has grown from a single baby to 32 infant “employees” under three-years-old, mostly from the immediate neighborhood. The babies are compensated with free formula and diapers and their mothers can get cups of tea from the in-house cafe. Whenever the infants show up for a visit, the residents perk up and it creates a happier atmosphere.
“Even the people who usually don’t speak much and don’t smile a lot or don’t move, as soon as they see the babies, their facial expressions get brighter,” Gondo says. The babies are giving the residents much-needed social interaction and Gondo hopes it will help combat the image of care homes as depressing places full of lonely old people. She also hopes that the program will have a positive impact on the children and that they will continue to visit as they grow up.