It sounds strange – but the not-for-profit ACH Group has just become the first aged care provider in South Australia and the second in Australia to introduce HenPower, a creative ageing program based around keeping chickens.
Launched in the UK by in 2011, the program has since been rolled out to more than 40 aged care homes there.
UK studies have already shown it can reduce loneliness and isolation, cut rates of depression and improve people’s wellbeing.
But why chickens?
Hen keeping offers people the chance to have some responsibility in caring for the birds and also helps with communication, something vital for those living with dementia, ACH says.
Henny Penny, Chooky Looky, Chicken Licken and Priscilla are now making themselves at home at the Memory Support unit at ACH’s Kapara home in Glenelg South, and Kapara Senior Manager Lyn Bertram says they are already having a positive impact on the residents’ mood.
“The residents just love them,” she says. “For many of them, it brings back memories of their younger days, and they really enjoy handling them and petting them, feeding and looking after them.”
Well if it works – what a great initiative.