Brightwater–The Village care manager Jennifer Neilson said the hens, known as “the ladies” or “our girls”, gave residents a daily responsibility to feed, care for and collect eggs from them.
“We had one man who refused to eat, but when the chickens arrived he was happy to cook an egg with our support and eat it too,” Ms Neilson said.
“Another lady with severe dementia enjoys sitting outside with the chooks.
“They are so tame and cluck around her – it’s calming.”
Ms Neilson said the chickens were tame enough to pick up and carry inside and the residents, most of whom have dementia, often transformed from passive or anxious to responsive at the sight of the birds, heaping affection on them, talking and interacting with the chickens and each other.
“Looking after the chickens and becoming their friends has given our residents a functional activity that gets them active outside and helps them achieve something that makes them feel included,” she said.
“It’s been a great way to prevent loneliness and reduce anxiety.”