Hens help ‘improve wellbeing’ in Romford care home

Willows care home resident holding a hen while surrounded by nurses.

Willows' resident, Gladys Green, interacting with a hen. - Credit: Willows Care Home

A care home in Romford has welcomed four hens into its family as part of a project that aims to reduce depression and loneliness in older people.  

Willows Care Home took on the new hens as part of the HenPower project, which is developed by creative ageing charity Equal Arts.  

The project is said to improve the wellbeing of residents by sparking happy memories and inspiring them to take part in creative activities such as arts and crafts.  

The four hens have been named by residents and staff as Henny Penny, Marylin, My Girl and Daisy. 

In Willows’ sister home, Parkfield Nursing Home in Hillingdon, the HenPower project has already been in place for two years and has so far provided good results.  

Hannah Wood, Equal Arts’ HenPower associate, said: “The project is a real success at Parkfield and it’s great to be able to roll it out. Creativity is known to have a positive impact on wellbeing and support communication for people living with dementia.” 

Willows care home resident interacts with one of the HenPower hens.

Resident, Icilma Ranger, enjoys interacting with the hens. - Credit: Willows Care Home

Willows is home to 72 residents who are provided with the “highest possible quality of life” by the nursing and care team who are on hand 24 hours a day.  

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Claudia Ramsamy, Willows’ manager, said: “Already our residents are enjoying caring for the hens and it is so good to see the emotions in their eyes when they are with them. 

“When we introduced the HenPower project to our ‘hensioners’  - as residents now call themselves - we were looking for activities they may enjoy to help them keep connected through the pandemic. 

“Our residents’ wellbeing is very important to us and I can honestly say that having the hens is one of the best things we’ve done all year."   

Resident of Willows, Gladys Green, said: “The hens are very friendly.

"It also feels comforting to have them bustling around you with a rustle of feathers or an inquisitive cluck and they are now a really important part of our daily routine.” 

The HenPower project is now in more than 40 care homes and at a time when residents are slowing down, it aims to “cultivate creativity” while giving older people a “sense of purpose and being part of something worthwhile”.  

Willows Care Home staff and residents interacting with hens.

Residents and staff at Willows Care Home interacting with the newly introduced hens. - Credit: Willows Care Home