HenPower Makes for a Happy Care HomeJanuary 30, 2015
Keeping hens is no longer a job solely for farmers, as many people in the UK are creating their own chicken pens – not just for a source of fresh eggs, but for something more…
Alzheimer’s and Loneliness
The Campaign to End Loneliness has estimated that the risk of Alzheimer’s diseases can increase by as much as 50% if a person is feeling isolated and alone. Interestingly, men are more vulnerable to falling into this statistic as they often don’t have as many social networks as women do to keep them connected and interacting with others.
Looking after hens has been proven to tackle depression as well as reduce anxiety and loneliness amongst older people, and in light of this the HenPower Project was born!
The lottery funded, non-profit project is run by Equal Arts, a charity helping establish creative projects for older people. Douglas Hunter, director of Equal Arts and founder of HenPower, first discovered the power of hens when encountering a man living in a dementia care home who kept saying he was missing his ‘girls’. Staff assumed he meant his wife and daughter but then later came to realise he meant his hens! Following this, Douglas arranged for hens to be brought into the home and the effect it had on residents set the whole project in motion!
The ‘henshioners’ are fully responsible for looking after the hens, right from incubation through to mucking out the pens and feeding them, as well as sometimes taking them to auction. Alongside these, they also carry out other hen-based activities such as singing, dancing and art.
Part of the project also includes encouraging the residents to get involved in the community, so the hens go on road shows, visiting other people’s homes and even schools too. Creswell explains, “You go in and they’re all looking at the wall. Some of them are younger than me. We go in with three hens and start chatting and you’d think a bomb had dropped, the place comes alive. It makes a big difference.”
After his wife died ten years ago, Creswell kept himself to himself and didn’t socialise or interact with many other people, but with the help of HenPower he found friends again and remembered what it was like to have companionship, as he describes, ‘it gives you a purpose for life.’
The University of Northumbria have studied the effects of the hen project and revealed that male participants of HenPower showed signs of improved well-being and reduced levels of depression and loneliness. As well as this, violent acts were reduced by 50% after the hens were introduced.
Following its success, HenPower has received £1 million from the Big Lottery Fund, giving them the funding they need to expand their offerings to another five areas of the UK! Creswell, along with a few others, has travelled to various locations, giving talks on their experiences of being part of HenPower. This has kept them very busy, giving them a real purpose and involvement in something they really care about! There has even been interest about the scheme from abroad, with a care home in Frankfurt and a party from Bangladesh making enquiries too!
If you’re working in the care industry and are looking for ways to make your residents more comfortable in their surroundings, then please feel free to contact Nichol & Hill. We specialist in creating bespoke care home soft furnishings to complement current interiors – please don’t hesitate to call us for more information today.
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