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An egg-cellent idea to bring people together

Our learning disability nurses introduced ducklings into the homes of people with complex needs. The initiative aims to boost engagement, promote wellbeing, and help communication skills.

In the 100th year of learning disability nursing, innovation is key. Whereas once the focus was on providing medicine to patients, now it’s about supporting everyone to live life in the way they choose. Having a learning disability can make communication tricky and affect confidence. Animal assisted therapies can break down those barriers, reignite enthusiasm, and make people feel safe enough to communicate with others around them.

Alice, one of our nursing locality managers, said: “We reached out to Incredible Eggs because we thought the ducklings would bring joy to people. As soon as they arrived, people were interested and excited. It really made a difference. Whether or not people use words, everyone has equal communication skills when it comes to animals. It can boost people’s confidence. We’re hoping to roll this out across other homes as well as look at introducing different animals in a responsible and ethical way.”

Animal therapy is for everyone

In recent years, it’s been proved that pets reduce stress and anxiety. However, this isn’t a new thing. For centuries, animals have been thought to benefit ‘sick people’. Florence Nightingale believed that birds could bring happiness to people confined to a ward. Animal therapies are also being explored in other settings: hospitals, dementia homes, and mental health settings.

Across Brandon, it’s not just our learning disability nurses that are bringing animals home. Recently, a miniature pony named Fern visited people in Oxfordshire. It gave friends and family the chance to share an experience with their relatives.

Support worker, Bridget Aries, said: “There were lots of smiles all round! They found it very funny that Fern came into their house to see people who weren’t keen on being outside. She was partial to a cup of tea! Everyone, including family and friends, had a lovely day.”

In Gloucestershire, a friendly Pets as Therapy (PAT) Dog, visited some of the people we support. Juno visits people of all ages to bring a little joy to their day.

Anne Blake, team leader at Sandyleaze, told us: "The dog brought a few hours of warmth and calmness to a busy home.”

It’s not just our teams that are quick to talk about the benefits of close contact with animals. Charlie has a close bond with his horse, Auntie. He knows only too well the benefits animals can bring to autistic people like himself.

Charlie told us: “Without Auntie, I would have no reason to get up in the morning and certainly no reason to bother taking my medication, I just wouldn’t care. She’s been an amazing friend to me.”

Inspiring the next generation of nurses

Not everyone can own their own pet, yet we know that animals can make a big difference to people’s wellbeing. Many of us have pets at home, and thanks to our innovative teams, we’re introducing animals to people across Brandon.

If you’re looking to join an inspirational team, find out about working at Brandon. We’re always looking for person-centred, dynamic team members and managers.