Residents at Acacia Nursing Home in Yeovil were delighted to receive a visit from friends of the feathered variety, when Barney the eagle owl, Pippin the American kestrel, and Breeze the barn owl were brought in for them to see and stroke.
The birds were from Sharandy’s Birds of Prey, based near the wide open spaces of the Blackdown Hills, and were accompanied by qualified handler Sharon Banks who has been working with birds of prey for 15 years.
Dannielle Whitehouse, Acacia’s activities co-ordinator, said: “We have had birds of prey visit Acacia several times already, and our residents absolutely love having the opportunity to get up close to these amazing creatures, and stroke their chests.
“Sharon knows just how to help the people with dementia who live at Acacia get the best out of the experience. She’s got a fabulous sense of humour and a lovely way with her that people – and birds – respond to really well.”
Many of the relatives of individuals who live at Acacia described how well their family members engaged with the birds, and how excited they were to be able to hold a kestrel and stroke an owl.
Any residents who had chosen or were not able to be in the communal areas at the time of the visit were offered the chance to see the birds in their own rooms, meaning that everyone who wished to be involved could be.
Sharon Banks said: “It’s always so rewarding to visit Acacia. We are well used to approaching and meeting people with all levels of dementia, and our visit here is always met with a warm reception.
“Staff tell us that some of their elderly residents talk about our visits for a very long time after the event, and we find it so rewarding to be able to share our birds with these lovely people who would otherwise not be able to experience a beautiful owl.”
The visit was part of a busy activities programme provided by award-winning dementia care specialists Camelot Care, who run the Hendford Hill based service. The organisation has 15 years’ experience in providing top quality nursing and dementia care to the elderly with further homes in Wellington and Bridgwater in Somerset and Plymouth in Devon.