A project linking older people with hens to combat social isolation has been launched in care homes in Yorkshire, following a successful pilot.
The HenPower project uses hen-keeping to tackle social isolation, reduce depression and improve people’s wellbeing.
“It’s such a simple idea which has such a potential for big impact on the homes taking part”
It is run by Equal Arts, a charity offering creative opportunities for older people. It was awarded £1m lottery funding to roll HenPower out across the UK.
Following London, Leeds is the next location as part of the roll-out, where it is being introduced in two homes run by Orchard Care Homes.
The company piloted the scheme in two of its homes in the North East, at St George’s Hall and Lodge in Darlington, prior to Yorkshire.
After positive feedback, the company requested the opportunity to implement the project in other homes, with a view to rolling this out further across the group.
Phil Whitaker, operations director for Orchard Care Homes, said: “We were overwhelmed by the impact the HenPower project had in our pilot home in Darlington and so were keen to bring this opportunity to more of our homes.
“It’s such a simple idea which has such a potential for big impact on the homes taking part,” he said.
“It gives people a role and responsibility and residents can be involved as much as they wish”
Zoe Laver, home manager of Nesfield Lodge in Leeds, said: “The hens give a focus to the residents. They feed the hens, clean them out and collect the eggs.
“We also bring the hens in to sit on the knees of our residents – they have a wonderful calming effect and we’ve seen such a positive uplift in the home,” she added.
Equal Arts director Douglas Hunter said: “To see HenPower establishing in Leeds venues is testament to the difference this simple idea can have on people’s wellbeing, no matter where they are in the country.
“It gives people a role and responsibility and residents can be involved as much as they wish,” he said. “HenPower moves away from passive care and harnesses people’s imagination and interests to empower themselves.”
In 2014, a 12-month study by Northumbria University found the innovation improved the health of older people, reduced depression and loneliness, and cut the need for some medication.