21 November 2014

Dreaming of HenPower for the elderly

The lovely blog of Melissa at tinyhappy has thrilled me this week with its link to a story about HenPower.

An image from the Telegraph article about HenPower.
Consider a group of elderly people, in a rest home or retirement village. The demands of their own homes and sections have gone or been hugely reduced, spouses have died, and for some of them gaping holes have been left behind.

Enter HenPower. A chicken coop, and some hens or even eggs in an incubator that hatch into delightful little chicks. (I know not the fate of the roosters.) What happens?

It turns out to be tranformative for some of the elderly people. They say things like "‘My life has been a lot fuller since we’ve had these hens. I think I’d be lost without them." The chicken-keeping tasks lead to social interactions, a point of interest, and a sense of purpose and fulfilment. In turn, there are reduced amounts of antipsychotic drugs in rest homes and all sorts of other good outcomes.

The project started with bare-bones funding, but last year they were awarded £164,000 of lottery money to extend the project to different parts of the United Kingdom.

There's also a lovely seven minute video on the project called Hen Men here. In it, one man hasn't seen his family since 1980 and didn't talk to his neighbours until the project began. Now the local chaps get together over their chooks. (If only I could interpret the other 70% of what the men say - the accents are strong! Which is quite fun in itself - my son was gobsmacked.)

It would be fantastic if something like this could get going in New Zealand. Wouldn't it be a lovely thing for the old people to show visiting grandchildren? I can even imagine local kindergartens going on field trips to see the chickens and collect the morning's eggs, and the residents being delighted by seeing the children. Some of the children would probably start wanting their own hens at home...  what a wonderful ripple effect it could have. HenPower indeed.

I also wrote about HenPower on my chickens Facebook page and blog. If you're missing chicken posts here, please visit the other sites, which are where my chicken writings mostly are these days.

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