THERE was a flurry of feathers at Whiddon Groups’ aged care home in Kelso on Friday as the HenPower program was kicked off.
The recently expanded aged care facility not only has 60 extra beds, but it will soon add three new chickens.
HenPower involves residents looking after the facility’s chickens, and research shows the practical aspects of hen keeping, combined with the pet-like bonds that have developed between residents and their hens, has significant benefits to overall wellbeing.
In preparation for Whiddon’s new feathered residents, the facility will hold weekly ‘Chicken Chatter’ sessions to introduce the silkies who have been named – Princess, Pride and Prejudice.
There were smiles all round when some of the residents met the small flock on Friday.
Resident Marcia Tetley had a broad smile as she nursed Princess the silkie chicken on Friday.
“She’s talking to me,” she said as the chicken quietly clucked.
Resident Hazel Brown grew up with chickens in her backyard and said she was looking forward to the chickens being introduced to the coop at Whiddon.
“It’ll be fun, especially for those who can get around,” she said.
Whiddon Kelso’s HenPower co-ordinatror Patrick Dawson said there are many health benefits for residents involved in the program.
These include reducing apathy, depression and loneliness, as well as providing those with dementia a positive outlet for emotion and a way to connect with other people.
The HenPower initiative also involves members of the local community including students at All Saints’ College who will help with the chickens.
Members of the Bathurst Poultry Club will also assist with caring and washing them in preparation for judging at the Royal Bathurst Show.
Mr Dawson acknowledged it can be isolating for some people after they move into aged care, and said past experience in other Whiddon facilities has shown significant improvements in the heath and wellbeing of residents.
The chicken coop for Whiddon, Kelso is still being completed, and Mr Dawson said the chickens will move in permanently in early September.