Care home trials pet therapy - using alpacas

East Anglian Daily Times
By: Andrew Papworth

Original content from East Anglian Daily Times.  

Dogs, cats and rabbits are well know to provide great comfort to families and particularly people living with dementia.

But now one Suffolk care home has discovered the astonishing therapeutic qualities of a much more exotic animal – the alpaca.

Hadleigh Nursing Home was chosen to trial pet therapy using the South American breed by Jo Bridge, who keeps a herd of 60 alpacas at Clay Hill Farm, in Wattisham.

Ms Bridge, who had previously kept horses and goats, acquired her first alpacas in 2012 - three pregnant females and two males - and confessed it had been “love at first sight”.

Seeing the potential to help dementia patients in care homes, she approached the Kingsley Healthcare-run home in Friars Road, Hadleigh last year to trial therapy visits.

The residents have taken to the alpacas so much that they have decided to adopt two called Echo and Goose.

Ms Bridge said the discovery alpacas could be used in care homes came from entertaining a group of people with special needs at one of its farm visits and alpaca walks.

Clair Perks, Hadleigh Nursing Home’s activities coordinator, said: “It really lifts the mood of people living with dementia.

“One of our residents, Alfred Wright, who is normally not very expressive, sat bolt upright when he encountered one of the alpacas for the first time and said: ‘Darling, you have made my evening.’”

Read the rest of this story at East Anglian Daily Times.