Resident Mary Cole meets Buttercup the pony from Furry Friends (Picture: Alex Cousins / SWNS)A couple of adorable miniature ponies have brought smiles to elderly residents in their care home.
Buttercup and Daisy visited Magdalen Park Nursing Home in Hull yesterday. There was a joyful reaction from OAPs who came out of their rooms to meet them.
One resident Mary Cole, who used to breed dogs in her youth, cradled muzzle of one of the ponies close to her own face.
The owner of the ponies Helen Bellis, 44, said the introduction of ponies into a care home provides residents with a ‘breath of fresh air’ and a ‘genuine sense of joy’.
Research shows contact and companionship with animals can reduce the stress hormone cortisol and provide an overall boost to well-being.
Horses in particular are being utilised more and more in a treatment known as equine therapy, which sees horses being used to help people with mental health problems.
Resident Barbara Redfearn meets Daisy the pony (Picture: Alex Cousins / SWNS)The unorthodox form of therapy is said to help with a range of issues including anxiety, autism, poor behaviour, low self confidence, stress and trauma.
Helen, who runs a company called Furry Friends, said: ‘Seeing the interaction between Buttercup and Daisy and elderly residents at care homes is so powerful.
‘Sometimes there are people who don’t normally leave their rooms at all but they come out just to see the ponies.
‘Daisy can identify if someone is having end of life care and she will go up to them, lay her head on their bed and breathe on their hand.
‘It’s incredibly special to see it happen.
‘Seeing animals takes so many of these elderly people back to their childhood and brings memories flooding back.
‘It really is a unique opportunity.’
She added: ‘The positive impact animals can have on vulnerable people is enormous.
Resident Norman Taylor meets Buttercup the pony (Picture: Alex Cousins / SWNS)‘They are incredibly therapeutic for people who have physical and mental health issues.
‘Daisy and Buttercup have the perfect temperament for this, they have the most incredibly calming personalities.
‘It doesn’t matter how noisy or busy an environment is – they keep their cool.
‘They’re very sensitive and tuned into people’s feelings.’
Helen recently set up Furry Friends with her sister Emma Stephenson, both of whom worked in social care for 25 years.
The siblings love animals and are huge proponents of the benefits animals can have for mental health.
Helen and Emma have dozens of animals on their books including pigs, goats, hedgehogs, ducks, lizards and a tortoise.
Buttercup is a rescue pony aged three and Daisy is nine years old.
Furry Friends visit care homes, as well as hospices, two or three times a week.
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