Antarctic Visitors Prove Hit At Care Home
It’s long been recognised that introducing animals into the care home environment provides significant health benefits for residents, but one Oxfordshire establishment has taken the idea one step further by introducing a rather novel animal to excited residents.
Pick Up a Penguin!
Charlie, a 20-year-old penguin, was joined by his son Pringle, who is just five years old, to mingle amongst residents at Madley Park in Witney. The animals are two members of a penguin breeding colony based at Heythrop Zoo in Chipping Norton, but they took time out from their usual daily routine to pay a visit to local residents and brighten up their day.
Delighted residents at the care home were joined by pupils from two local schools – Springfield and Madley Brook – to welcome the pair of penguins to this rather strange new environment for them. Staff spoke of the sheer delight on everyone’s faces as the comical twosome made their rounds and introduced themselves.
This was new territory for the two penguins, who are accustomed to cave-like nesting boxes set on a pebbled beach next to a swimming enclosure. As Charlie and Pringle ran amok in the care home lounge, residents and children took it in turns to cuddle the delightful creatures, and the room was abuzz with excitement.
The Benefits of Care Home Therapy Animals
This is not the first time that animals have been introduced to elderly nursing home residents. Managers and staff are all too aware that introducing pets into residential homes creates a powerful sense of well-being amongst both residents and staff, with Pets As Therapy (PAT) animals regularly making visits to elderly people up and down the country. Pets As Therapy was created in 1983 to enhance the well-being and health of community members by enabling volunteers with well-behaved pets to visit nursing homes, hospitals and hospices around the country, engaging with residents and improving their state of mind and quality of life. The charity says that its service helps to improve people’s lives, particularly those suffering from physical and mental health conditions, including dementia and stroke.
Many nursing homes now actively encourage animals to visit their residents, as this has been proved to improve social interaction between older people, reduce stress and encourage displays of affection. People with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can often experience improvements following animal therapy visits, as they unlock emotions and memories.
Some residential homes now have their own on-site animal therapy solutions. They have adopted rabbits and even chickens that residents are encouraged to engage with and care for. This has been shown to be extremely beneficial to residents, encouraging them to participate more fully in social activities.
Things may have calmed down a little at Madley Park Care Home now that Pringle and Charlie have returned to their own home, but the success of the visit means that another will almost certainly be scheduled very soon.