Feathered friends provide extra comfort at Northants nursing home

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A nursing home in Irchester is enabling a resident to keep her 60-year love for birds alive.

Jeanette Warden from Higham Ferrers has an anxiety disorder and is bipolar, so being able to keep her four budgies with her was essential factor when she decided to move into care.  The Cottage nursing home on High Street was more than happy to welcome Peter, Suzie, Mickey and Pixie who live in a cage in Jeanette’s room.

Research by the animal charity, Blue Cross, found that two thirds of pet owners would be ‘devastated’ if they had to give up their pet to go into care.

“I get so much comfort from them I couldn’t have been parted from them,” said Jeanette, 71.  “I’ve had them for six years now.  Peter rules the roost and Suzie is very affectionate.  When I was more able I used to let them sit on my shoulder and Suzie would rest against my cheek if I was sad.”

Jeanette has kept birds for more than half a century.  Her uncle bought her first one at the age of 10 to help her get over being frightened by a pet bird that flew at her at her cousin’s birthday party, and she has loved them ever since.  She’s kept finches, canaries but now enjoys the company of four budgies.

“We knew how important the birds were for Jeanette’s wellbeing so there was never any question of her not being able to bring them with her,” said The Cottage’s home manager, Felicity Bucknall-Hart. “People may have had their pet for more than a decade and to give up that relationship can be extremely difficult and stressful. 

“We welcome pets at The Cottage because they offer companionship and a sense of purpose in looking after them.” 

Blue Cross research also found that although 40% of residential homes claim to be ‘pet friendly’, many people have to settle for their pet visiting rather than living with them.

Jeanette can also enjoy visits from Oscar Dog Therapy, a Tibetan terrier who visits every week with his owner, Alison Hadley.  Stroking dogs like Oscar has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and release endorphins that help residents to feel calmer.

“Many of our residents love having Oscar in the home,” said Felicity Bucknall-Hart.  “For example, Gino Centini worked on a farm and had animals around him on a daily basis.  Although his speech is extremely limited now we know how much he gets out of the dog’s company and that’s wonderful to see.”

 

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