ELDERLY residents at a Kirklees care home had a hoot when several owls flew in to see them for an animal therapy session.
The birds of prey were brought to Aden Mount Care Home, in Primrose Hill, by Wise Owl Bird of Prey Rescue.
A little owl named Orville, Pebbles the barn owl, Willow the Eurasian eagle, Gizmo the southern white-faced owl, and Storm the harris hawk were among the visitors.
Michelle Horsley, home manager at Aden Mount Care Home, said: “The first owl to meet the residents was Orville. The residents were able to feed and stroke the little owl. Everyone loved stroking the little bird.
“The birds were larger each time they came out and all the residents’ faces lit up with every new bird they saw. Everyone who wanted to stroke a bird did, while others were happy just to watch the birds flying from person to person.
“The residents were interested in everything about the birds, asking questions about what they ate, how much they weighed, where they were from. One even asked how they could get one.
“Many of the residents and staff wanted the birds to stay for longer. Like forever.”
Aden Mount is one of several Hill Care Group homes in the region taking advantage of animal therapy sessions to help boost residents’ wellbeing.
Those living at Thornhill Care Home, in Edgerton, took trips to Ponderosa Zoo, Heckmondwike, to meet meercats, monkeys, reindeer, and reptiles, to name just a few.
A walk-through enclosure allowed the residents to get up close to the lemurs, they watched the spider monkeys being fed, and enjoyed a meal at the zoo’s lake side restaurant.
Resident James White, 98, was the care home’s photographer for the day. He said: “I had such an amazing day taking photos. I liked all the animals, except the reptiles.”
Ilona Ruttle, activities coordinator at Thornhill Care Home, accompanied the residents on both trips to the zoo. She said: “Ponderosa is a wonderful place to go to see the animals.
“I asked the residents which animals they liked the most. Rachel said she liked them all, Mary said the reindeer, and James said all except the reptiles.
“All the residents also enjoyed having refreshments and meals at the various venues at the zoo.”
Another Hill Care Group home, Aden Lodge Care Home, has also seen animals raising residents’ spirits, when mobile petting zoo DB Animal Therapy visited with a menagerie of exotic animals last month.
Vicky Taylor, divisional director for the Hill Care Group, said: “Many of our residents are hugely fond of animals and any activities involving them always brings a huge amount of excitement and fun to our care homes.
“These sorts of visits and sessions have a wide range of benefits, helping to boost everyone’s mood, reduce feelings of stress and loneliness, ease anxiety, and improve overall wellbeing.
“Whether that’s a visit from a lizard or a tortoise, seeing an owl or an eagle up close, or going to the zoo or a farm to see exotic and domestic animals up close. There is still a wonderment to being around animals that has a really positive effect.
“Seeing the residents interacting with the animals, asking questions, and talking about the visits for hours and days afterwards shows just how impactful and beneficial these therapy sessions are. I’m positive we will be doing many more in future.”