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Could chickens help beat loneliness and depression?

Chickens being looked after at care home helps residents with loneliness & depression Photo: MEN Syndication

People in care homes have been given chickens to stop them feeling lonely and depressed - and they’re absolutely loving their new feathered friends. Crossroads Together, a Greater Manchester-based charity behind the Social Hen Homes Project, said that some older people can go weeks without seeing anyone. The initiative, launched earlier this month, is designed help combat loneliness and depression among older people. Five care homes in Rochdale have each taken delivery of five chicks. Residents will take care of them and it is hoped it will help them gain a sense of purpose, while improving wellbeing and social interaction. As well as feeding and caring for the animals, the pensioners will also collect eggs once the hens are old enough to start laying.

Care home residents caring for chickens to help beat the blues Credit: MEN

We’ve all seen the news stories about the numbers of older people who go for weeks without seeing anyone, and I’ve been delighted to see so many initiatives put in place locally in recent years to try and tackle social isolation. These schemes often focus on those living in the community however, but there’s a growing recognition that older people in residential care also demonstrate worrying levels of loneliness. We’re hopeful that introducing hens to care homes will be catalyst to help bring residents together to create strong communities. This is the first time a scheme like this has been put in place in Greater Manchester, and we’re really excited to watch the chicks grow and see how the residents enjoy caring for them.

– Paul Parlby, Chief Executive, Crossroads Together

Crossroads Together has received funding for the project from Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group as part of its ‘Strengthening Communities’ scheme. Francesca Hawley, manager of Rosemary Care Home in Milnrow, which is one of the homes involved in the project, said

We’re so pleased with how the chicks are settling in. It’s brilliant to see our residents getting involved with their care and taking such an interest in how they are getting on each day. We pride ourselves on creating a community at Rosemary, and it has been wonderful to how engaged our residents have been with the chicks since they arrived. We can’t wait to collect our first eggs.

– Francesca Hawley, manager, Rosemary Care Home, Milnrow
Chickens being cared for at 5 care homes in Rochdale Credit: MEN

The Social Hen Homes Project is being delivered in partnership with students and teachers from Hopwood Hall College’s animal management facility. The college will help support the project lead and will be on hand for on-going advice and to support the care homes with caring for their hens.

Feathered friends Credit: MEN