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Therapeutic benefits of keeping hens 


Loneliness and boredom is the number one cause of depression in care homes. When an elderly person moves to a care home it can be daunting, some don’t even get visitors and feel forgotten about. There are a number of schemes out the to try and tackle this for example HenPower.

HenPower is an organisation that was set up in order to decrease loneliness and depression in the elderly in care homes. Feelings of isolation are an increasing issue for older members of society particularly those living in rural areas. A recent study on improving wellbeing in care settings conducted at the Northumbria University reported the worrying statistic that those with minimal human contact are 64% more likely to develop clinical dementia. Results also suggested that loneliness could be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. HenPower aims to combat this problem with the introduction of feathery friends. Each resident is assigned with one Hen to look after, obviously they don’t do it all by themselves, but it’s a great way to make them feel appreciated again and gives them a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

Douglas Hunter is the founder of HenPower and he says the idea came to him when talking to a resident at a care home he was talking about his “girls”, Douglas later found out he was referring to the hens he used to look after and how he missed the routine. The HenPower project has showed amazing results as it gives the elderly more chances to get out into the fresh air and not only interact with the hens but also other care home residents.

Equal arts were the charity that set up the HenPower project and started off by spending £300 on a second-hand hen house and six hens. By the time the hen house needed replacing, four months later, the staff were so convinced of its value they paid for a new one out of their own pockets. The national lottery soon heard about this and gave a large donation of 160,000 to test this in other areas. Following more great success the national lottery gave further £1,000,000 pounds to fund this across the UK. Each site is given start-up money and six months’ funding from the lottery grant, but has to fundraise to continue the project.

Keeping chickens in care homes

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