Mr Kelloggs brings animal magic to Branksome Heights and Highcliffe Nursing Home
For care home residents who have dementia or who are bed-bound, visits by animals can be a highlight of their day.
Studies have shown that pet therapy, as it is known, has a range of benefits from lifting mood to encouraging social interaction.
While dogs are the most common four-legged visitors, Kingsley Healthcare’s Highcliffe Nursing Home in Highcliffe and Branksome Heights in Bournemouth, are among a growing number of homes across Dorset to discover the animal magic brought by Mr. Kelloggs, a Shetland pony.
During his visits, he brings a smile to everyone’s face as he walks around the gardens and inside the homes, even visiting residents in their bedroom.
Tracey Millar, manager at Highcliffe Nursing Home, which has been shortlisted for Care Home of the Year in the Daily Echo Proud to Care Awards 2021, said: “From his first visit Mr. Kelloggs made an immediate and magical connection with our residents.
“Residents reminisced about their own horses from many years ago. The reactions on the faces of our residents melted everyone’s hearts. Their smiles were so engaging and there was the odd kiss from Mr. Kelloggs, who was so very well behaved.”
Lynne Petty, manager at Branksome Heights which won Care Home of the Year in the last Proud to Care awards, agreed that there was “an amazing connection between Mr. Kelloggs and residents which is obvious to see”.
Sharon Gledhill, 57, of Burton, near Christchurch, runs Linking Hearts Therapy Horses with her daughter Megan, 24, and said seeing residents’ faces light up at the sight of Mr. Kelloggs was “priceless”.
She said they had bought Mr. Kelloggs, named after the Kelloggs factory near his former home in Wales, two years ago but the pandemic meant they had only started visiting care homes in May.
“Therapy horses need to have the right temperament to start with and then they go through lots of training to desensitise them to noises and different surfaces,” she said.
Mrs. Gledhill, a part-time teaching assistant at The Sheiling School, in Ringwood, said: “Since the lockdown has eased we have been bombarded with calls from care homes. We have even taken Christmas bookings.”
She said it was amazing walking in a room with Mr. Kelloggs and seeing residents do a double take.
“Faces light up, it is like switching a light on, and then residents start chatting away, asking questions about Mr. Kelloggs and telling us about their own experiences with horses,” she said.
Find out more about Highcliffe nursing home
Author: Stephen Pullinger