Willows has recently taken delivery of four characterful hens as part of the highly successful HenPower project.

Developed by creative ageing charity Equal Arts, HenPower combines hen-keeping and creativity to help combat loneliness and improve wellbeing.

The four lively additions to the Willows family have been named Henny Penny, Marylin, My Girl and Daisy by residents and staff, and are settling well into their new home.

Several of the residents have kept hens earlier in their lives and their interaction with their entertaining new feathered friends is sparking happy memories. Residents, including those with dementia, particularly enjoy checking for eggs in the morning and giving the hens a treat every so often.

The hens will no doubt also provide inspiration for creative activities, such as art and crafts, as they have been doing very successfully at our sister home, Parkfield Nursing Home in Hillingdon, for the last two years.

Claudia Ramsamy, our home manager, says:  “We aim to ensure that the lives of our residents are fulfilled and that they experience new things as often as possible, so we are extremely excited about the hens’ arrival. Already our residents are enjoying caring for them and it is so good to see the emotions in their eyes when they are with the hens.

“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!”

“The hens are very friendly,” says Pamela, a resident. “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.”

A Northumbria University study into HenPower highlighted how hen-keeping improves the health and wellbeing of older people, reducing depression and loneliness in care homes.

Hannah Wood, Equal Arts’ HenPower associate, said: “The enthusiasm of staff and residents to get involved and creative has been fantastic. 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. With online and socially distanced sessions we’re able to keep people connected and creative together.”