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 Flying visit from owls lift Hartlepool care residents’ spirits

Flying visit from owls lift Hartlepool care residents’ spirits

By 16th November, 2023 Press Releases No Comments

SPIRITS have soared at a Hartlepool Care Home after owls paid elderly residents a flying visit – part of a remarkable animal therapy initiative.

The usually solitary birds of prey brought residents at Queens Meadow Care Home, on Stockton Road, out of their shells when they flew in to greet them.

Everyone had a hoot with their new, feathered friends, which included a barn owl, Eurasian eagle owl, and a Harris hawk.

The birds were brought to the care home by Yorkshire-based Owl Adventures, Falconry and Mobile Zoo.

As well as holding the birds, residents learned facts including the term “fed up” originated from hawks that had eaten too much to fly and hunt for the falconer.

Christine Holroyd, 71, said: “I have always loved owls and I have never seen one in person.”

Beryl Horner, 85, said: “I particularly enjoyed stroking his feathers. He was a lot softer than I expected.”

Julie Bartosiak, a senior carer who was quizzed while holding an owl, said: “You could see on the residents’ faces how amazed they were. We were really lucky to witness these beautiful animals, especially flying around our home. They were well behaved.

“I was really surprised at how heavy the owl was when I was holding it. It’s an experience I don’t think I’ll get again any time soon.”

Animal therapy sessions, such as the birds of prey experience, boost residents’ wellbeing and help tackle feelings of loneliness, according to home manager Rachael Smith.

She said: “The residents thoroughly enjoyed the visit from Owl Adventures and we’d like to thank them for taking the time to come and see us.

“We all enjoyed learning more about the birds and holding them. Everyone’s faces lit up when we watched them flying from person to person and they had a go wearing the big glove so they could hold them.

“You only need to watch the residents’ interacting with the birds to see the benefits these sorts of sessions have, from boosting everyone’s mood to reducing feelings of stress and loneliness, easing anxiety to improving overall wellbeing.

“I’m sure we’ll be running many more animal encounter sessions in future and hopefully we can welcome back our feathered friends again one day as well.”

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