Our residents at Barley View recently enjoyed a surprise visit from a trio of therapy sheep raising spirits and plenty of smiles. The woolly guests form part of a small flock owned and cared for by Emma Jackson, whose Sheep Therapy business continues to grow in popularity.
The three tame lambs; Mocha, William and Buttercup, were gratefully received by our residents who were all given the opportunity to stroke, hold and even feed the animals. The visit was arranged by Activities and Wellbeing Co-ordinator, Gemma Howarth who originally spotted Sheep Therapy on Facebook.
‘I thought what a lovely idea! Our residents love animals. When sitting in the activity room, the residents always look for the sheep on the hills facing us. I knew they would love the lambs. Seeing animals brings so much joy and happiness.’
For one of our residents, the experience provided a welcome reminder of his agricultural background. While feeding one of the lambs, Gordon remarked that ‘it feels very natural to me. I used to work on a farm when I was younger. These really are lovely sheep!’
Emma Jackson, who runs the small working farm in Stacksteads, Rossendale believes sheep therapy provides relaxation and bonding between animal and human. This close bonding can help to reduce stress and anxiety, provide comfort, companionship, boost mood and give confidence.
For our residents living with dementia, animal therapies form an important part of the activities schedule. Pet therapy, or animal-assisted therapy, has been shown to improve mood and increase social interaction among those living with dementia; critical given that this group are at greater risk of isolation and depression.