Care Home Uses 'Alpaca Therapy' For Residents With Dementia
Hadleigh Nursing Home in Ipswich, Suffolk found that its residents benefited from the "enchanting animals" visiting on a regular basis.
Snaps of the alpaca's meet and greets have been shared on social media, showing residents stroking the animals inside of the care home. Other animals like dogs, birds of prey and donkeys are often used by care homes in the same way.
The alpacas belong to a herd of 60 from Clay Hill Farm in Wattisham and the exotic animals now visit Hadleigh Nursing Home in Friars Road, Hadleigh on a regular basis for their "remarkable therapeutic impact".
Jo Bridge, who owns the alpacas, first saw a potential for the alpacas to visit care homes after a group of people with special needs visiting her farm.
"They are such an enchanting animal with a gentle nature. They lean forward and touch your face with their noses. We call them alpaca kisses," a social media post explained. "We host farm visits and alpaca walks and it was when we entertained a group of people with special needs that we noticed alpacas' remarkable therapeutic impact.
"We were told one lady did not talk very much and might not even get out of the car. In fact, she had her carers in tears as she happily walked with an alpaca and chatted away."
This is when Jo decided to approach the care home to see if the residents would benefit in the same way from the alpacas.
"From our first visit, it has proved so rewarding for everyone," she said. "You can see the pleasure the alpacas bring just by the big smiles on residents' faces."
Clair Perks, the home's activities coordinator, said: "It really lifts the mood of people living with dementia.
"One of our residents, Alfred Wright, who is normally not very expressive, sat bolt upright when he encountered one of the alpacas for the first time and said, 'darling, you have made my evening'."
And the residents love the alpacas so much that they have decided to adopt two of them, Echo and Goose, meaning the home gets regular updates through newsletters and photos.
Featured Image Credit: Unsplash/Carlos Ruiz Huaman