Donkey Magic Works Wonders to bring Joy to the Elderly
|Picture the scene: you are in a residential home, sitting in your room. There is movement in the corridor, a quiet knock at the door – and a small donkey walks in to see you. |
He is not alone. Two smiling helpers from the Donkey Sanctuary are with him, one at his head, one at his bottom end. You break into a smile from ear to ear, then a wonderful laugh, and spend a priceless few minutes, talking to them and to the donkey.
| "The donkeys bring back happy memories for them of family seaside holidays, and they love to stroke the donkeys – they are so gentle. We have pictures of one of them, Alvis, all over the place. He is a very handsome donkey.” |
Alvis, aged 20, visits several BUPA Care homes in Birmingham , and even goes as far afield as Nottingham.
“The staff love the visits too,” Sarah Slym emphases. “Anything which breaks up the day for the residents and gives them a difference to the normal routine of meals and having a bath is a good thing. The donkeys come to see us every two weeks, and they also attend our fete.”
After the donkeys return home, there is a tremendous buzz as everyone talks about the donkey’s visit. They bring back memories of times past for many of the residents and staff. Everyone talks about pets they had, all great and small. Residents and staff have a new – and safe – topic of conversation which will keep them occupied for some time. Importantly, the laughter and joy the donkeys spread about them has many health benefits to residents and staff. Their quiet unexpected presence relieves stress and reduces depression, enabling everyone to benefiting from donkey magic!
So how did these visits start? A staff member at the Donkey Sanctuary suggested that it might be a good idea if donkeys visited residential and nursing homes. They sounded out some homes in the area, who welcomed the idea enthusiastically. In April 1999, the first group of donkeys arrived at a nursing home in Devon to entertain residents and staff there on the lawn outside. It wasn’t long before the homes invited the donkeys and staff into their lounges, because many residents weren’t able to get outside, but wanted to meet their new four legged friends. And shortly thereafter, they were invited to go to the residents’ rooms themselves, as some people in the homes were too ill or frail to leave them
Inevitably, questions spring to mind about health and safety.
Amber Brennan explains: “Often residents ask if their grandchildren can come in to see the donkeys,” she says, “and we often go to their fetes and fairs where the children can groom and pat the donkeys. They love it, and the residents love seeing their happy faces.”
All photos on courtesy of the Donkey Sanctuary - Thank you