£1m hen project launches in Orchard Care homes in Yorkshire

Resident Doreen Maude.
Resident Doreen Maude.

An inspirational hen project linking older people with hens to combat social isolation is spreading its wings and has now launched in two Orchard Care homes in Yorkshire. The forward thinking care home group embraces the opportunity by teaming up with older people’s charity Equal Arts.


The £1m Lottery funded HenPower uses hen-keeping to tackle social isolation, reduce depression and improve people’s wellbeing. Hen-keeping is used as a catalyst for those living within a care home setting for residents to take part in artist-led creative activities, form relationships with schools and their communities and develop their own hen-keeping community within the home.


Comments Nesfield Lodge home manager, Zoe Laver; ““The hens give a focus to the residents, some of whom have taken their new roles as ‘henshioners’ very seriously. They feed the hens, clean them out and collect the eggs. We get around eight eggs each day! We also bring the hens in to sit on the knees of our residents – they have a wonderful calming effect and we’ve seen such a positive uplift in the home.”


Orchard Care Homes has already been working with Equal Arts, piloting the scheme in the North East at St George’s Hall and Lodge in Darlington. With such positive feedback, the company requested to research the opportunity to implement the project in other homes, with a view to rolling this out further across the group.


Resident Eamon McMahon with care assistant Leah O'Leary.
Resident Eamon McMahon with care assistant Leah O’Leary.

Phil Whitaker, operations director for Orchard Care Homes, said: “We were overwhelmed by the impact the HenPower project had in our pilot home in Darlington and so were keen to bring this opportunity to more of our homes. It’s such a simple idea which has such a potential for big impact on the homes taking part.”


“We’re delighted to have celebrated the first HenPower in Leeds, with hen parties at our two projects in and around Leeds.”


The Equal Arts project currently supports more than 700 residents in over twenty North East care homes and two homes in London, where it has been backed by London Mayor, Boris Johnson. The arrival of HenPower in Yorkshire is the next step for the charity taking its novel initiative country-wide.


Douglas Hunter, Equal Arts director, said: “To see HenPower establishing in Leeds venues is testament to the difference this simple idea can have on people’s wellbeing, no matter where they are in the country.


“It gives people a role and responsibility and residents can be involved as much as they wish. HenPower moves away from passive care and harnesses people’s imagination and interests to empower themselves.”



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