The Society, which provides nursing care and accommodation to elderly, sick or disabled seafarers, their widows and dependants, has been running for more than 150 years. The visit was organised with local company Pony Pals, who specialise in pony petting days and therapy sessions for groups in the Surrey area.
Mr Kipling, the Mediterranean miniature donkey, who will celebrate his third birthday in May, stands at just 30 inches in height and spent more than an hour at the home meeting 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 proven to reduce stress levels and promote well-being. Petting the animals stimulates the residents’ senses and Mr Kipling is trained to walk beside a walking aid or wheelchair so all residents were able to spend time with him.
Caroline Seignot, Mr Kipling’s owner, said: “It was lovely to see the smiles on residents’ faces when Mr Kipling arrived in his Santa hat. Our visits bring comfort to those with a love of animals and often rekindle fond memories for residents. There was lots of laughter at the home and everyone was keen to learn more about how Mr Kipling and Morris are cared for.”
Anne Kasey, care home manager, said: “The residents were delighted to have their very own Christmas donkey for the day. Our little visitors were greatly received by residents who are unable to leave their bed as Mr Kipling was able to travel in the lift to visit them. The residents greatly enjoyed grooming and petting Mr Kipling and Morris and found the experience very therapeutic.”