Residents at The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society in Banstead welcomed Christmas early with a very special Christmas visitor. Mr Kipling, a Mediterranean miniature donkey, visited residents and staff along with his owner Caroline Seignot from Pony Pals, a local team who specialise in pony petting days and therapy sessions for groups in the Surrey area.
Mr Kipling, who will celebrate his second birthday in May, stands at just 30 inches in height and was joined by his friend Maurice the guinea pig. Maurice and Mr Kipling spent over an hour at the home and met 25 residents, as well as making a number of special visits to individuals’ rooms to spread the Christmas cheer.
Animal assisted therapy is commonly used as an occupational therapy tool for both the young and elderly. It is a known form of therapy to reduce stress levels and promote well-being. Petting the animals stimulates the residents’ senses and the animals are trained to walk beside a walking aid or wheelchair so all residents were able to spend time with them.
Caroline Seignot, Mr Kipling’s owner, said: “There were smiles all round when Mr Kipling arrived in his Santa hat and the residents didn’t hesitate to greet him and give him a cuddle. There was lots of laughter and many of the residents asked questions about Mr Kipling and were interested to learn more about how he is cared for.”
Anne Kasey, care home manager, said: “The residents were thrilled to be joined by Mr Kipling and Maurice. For those residents who are unable to leave their beds, it is wonderful to have such a lovely little visitor like Mr Kipling. Many of the residents remember going on family trips to the seaside and seeing the donkeys on the beach, so Mr Kipling’s visit brought back a lot of happy memories for them. It was a wonderful Christmas surprise to have our very own little donkey for the day.”