Residents of Westacre Nursing Home in Winchester received a cheerful and therapeutic visit from a group of Alpacas on Tuesday 14th January.
Westacre Nursing Home in Winchester provides residential and respite care for older people with physical needs and all kinds of dementia. The therapeutic benefits of animals for vulnerable people has long been recognised. Holding and stroking animals can reduce blood pressure and alleviate feelings of tension and anxiety.
The alpacas’ gentle natures, cheeky personalities and soft fur make them the perfect therapy animals. The residents at Westacre Nursing Home were encouraged to pet them, groom them and even take them for a short walk around the nursing home’s expansive gardens.
Residents who were unable to visit the communal areas of the home, where the main activities took place, were treated to a one-to-one visit from the alpacas, named Guinness and Hickory, in their individual rooms.
The residents are used to meeting a range of animals such as donkeys, dogs and rabbits, as they also receive regular visits from other animal experience providers, such as Mill Cottage Farm in Alton. Westacre staff have been keen to build on these animal encounters as they have seen first-hand the positive effects on the residents – they become more responsive, relaxed and focused.
Diana Hearn, Manager of Westacre, said:
“We are always on the lookout for interesting and stimulating activities for our residents. We know how much they enjoy interacting with animals – but an alpaca visit was something of a first. Our residents absolutely loved them. The alpacas were so friendly. There was so much fun and laughter.”
Alpacas originate from west-central South America, but these ones were from a little closer to home: Alpaca Adventure based near Shaftesbury on the Wiltshire/Dorset border.
A Representative from Alpaca Adventure, said:
“We were so pleased to be invited to Westacre Nursing Home with our alpacas. It was clear to see the positive impact on the residents communication and overall mood. We encouraged the residents to truly engage with the alpacas as this can help them to relive memories they’ve had with animals in the past.”