Introducing a small flock of chickens has worked wonders at a home for the elderly, and enriched the lives of residents. The birds are like garden angels.

Chickens have brought new life to a care home for the elderly in Cambridgeshire.

The introduction of a small flock of hens in the garden at Glennfield Care Centre in Wisbech has been a success for all concerned.

The idea came from centre manager Jude Reeve, who heard that chickens at a sister care home in the group had a very positive effect and offered extra interest for residents.

There was already a ‘sensory garden’ at Glennfield, a sanctuary where residents could enjoy the fresh air, the plants, some rabbits and the house cat, but watching the chickens has added a new dimension to the day for many of the 88 residents and 100 staff.

One of the activity co-ordinators, Amanda Scott, said: “With the mix of both elderly and some residents with various stages of dementia, it is important that not only their care and medical needs are addressed but also that plenty of stimulus is available to ensure the best quality of life.

“We initially bought five hens, two whites, two browns and a Pekin. They are free to roam all day in the garden. On nice days many of the residents sit outside and watch and interact with the hens, and at other times many watch them from the windows.

“Many of our residents are from this region so they have an affinity with rural and farming life. In fact, many have kept hens in the past at their homes. The staff, family and friends visiting the centre love to see them too, especially the younger visitors. We have taken pictures of the hens and written a little bio on each. I am sure we will have more in the future to add to the 11 we have now.

“The younger hens will soon be laying so, although we don’t get many eggs at the moment, that will increase, and we are looking to get a cockerel at some point. The eggs are for sale in the reception area and we also have a collection pot for donations to help with their upkeep. This year we are also thinking of producing a pet calendar. That will help with funds, too, and many of the residents are excited about this.”

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