A popular North East farm attraction has proved that it really does offer fun for all ages by welcoming a very special group of visitors.
Whitehouse Farm Centre near Morpeth in Northumberland organised and hosted a dedicated visit for the residents of local RMBI Home Scarbrough Court in Cramlington.
The day on the Farm was suggested, planned and overseen by the care home’s former activities coordinator, Dawn Peters, who recently moved to join the team at Whitehouse Farm. During her time at the home, Dawn became aware of the tremendous benefits of animal therapy.
Soon after settling into her new role, she was keen to reconnect with her former colleagues and the people she helped to look after with an invite to meet the Farm’s animal family.
Dawn explains: “During my time working with the residents at Scarbrough Court we regularly arranged for animals to come in and visit and it was incredible to see the impact they would have.
“People’s faces would just light up. The chance to interact with the animals really seemed to help them forget their troubles and feel calm and content. Animals are non-threatening and people who were reluctant to interact with others would readily relate to furry friends instead, sometimes really opening up in the presence of an animal that everyone was stroking and chatting about.
“When I joined Whitehouse Farm I often thought about how many of the people I worked with at Scarbrough Court would love to meet some of the animals we have here. I got in touch with my old colleague, Stacey Hunter, and we agreed that we would make that happen.”
Scarbrough Court’s residents, all over 60, were able to experience the best of what Whitehouse Farm has to offer. The group enjoyed hands-on sessions with animals including rabbits and guinea pigs, mice, rats and even snakes for those who wanted to meet them.
They also fed the Farm goats and learned about the different animals and their care from the keepers. Nelson the pig, the Centre’s official mascot also popped in to say hello and entertain the group with his dance moves.
Dawn loved reconnecting with her old friends and having seen how much they enjoyed the day, is now making plans to develop a much wider engagement programme to share the animal magic.
“Even though older people can experience mental or physical infirmities, their age doesn’t have to be a barrier to socialising and having new experiences. At Whitehouse Farm we have an ideal set up to welcome older visitors and so much they can enjoy.
“We have started work on a dedicated schedule for older people by reaching out to local care homes, as well as residents in sheltered housing and those still living at home, so they can socialise, meet the animals, enjoy a hearty meal in the Whitehouse Farm Kitchen and generally have a great day out,” said Dawn.
Stacey Hunter, Activities Coordinator at Scarbrough Court, said:
“We always try to organise a range of activities to help residents stay connected with their local community and environment. Meeting and handling animals has proven very popular among our residents and we can see a direct positive impact on their health and wellbeing. We are hoping to arrange more visits to Whitehouse Farm to enable our residents to make new furry friends on their day trips.”