Therapy chickens bring joy to aged care home
15 March 2019 at 4:52 pm
A pet chicken might sound like an unusual choice of a therapy pet, but staff at a Brisbane aged care home are hopeful some new clucky arrivals will help fight off loneliness and depression in their residents.
The four silkies and sultan bantams, picked by staff and residents of Bolton Clarke Moreton Shores residential aged care facility for their easy going and sociable personalities, have not only given a new spark of life to the home, but the residents as well.
Jan, a resident at the home, has grown particularly fond of the chickens – Lady Fluffbottom, Chickadee, Henny Penny, and Bella – who she can see from her window each morning.
“They are the first things I look for when I open the curtains in the morning, and that brings a smile to your face,” Jan told Pro Bono News.
“When I first heard they were coming, I thought it’d be a darn good idea, we needed something like that around, and they are just beautiful, little soft-balls.”
The home’s diversional therapist Bec McLeod said the chickens would often jump into the laps and walkers of the residents, looking for treats.
“They love pats and cuddles and are assisting as pet therapy, providing residents with increased sensory activity,” McLeod said.
“Residents are hand feeding the chickens, who have really taken to our environment. Many had chooks when they were younger, so having the coop offers a chance for a trip down memory lane and creates some nostalgia for them.”
Chickens are known to assist with social and creative activities, and research has found that the animals can also improve wellbeing and feelings of loneliness, and reduce incidences of isolation and depression in older people.
Deirdre Moran, the residential manager, told Pro Bono News she had only been getting positive feedback from the decision.
“I’ll often see the residents make their own way out to the chicken area and just sit with them quietly,” Moran said.
“And at our last residential meeting, when we were just chatting about where our favourite place was, one man told us it was out with the chickens.”
Jan said even though interest from the residents had dropped off since the chickens first arrived, she was surprised by how many still enjoyed visiting them.
“I am surprised by the number of people that do like to come and visit, as they love to come and look at them,” she said.
Moran said she hoped the animals would inspire other aged care centres around Australia to adopt similar programs.
“I don’t know why you wouldn’t do it, they’re low maintenance, they’re friendly, and they just bring so much pleasure,” she said.