A care home in Bournemouth has employed a new feathered member of staff to help with their pet therapy sessions.
Great Oaks welcomed Smuggler the budgie into their home last month.
The bird is the first pet to live full-time on site and was donated by one of the carers in the Encore Care Homes group, of which Great Oaks is a part of.
Susan Goktas, Activities Manager at Great Oaks said: “I make sure that, once or twice a week, Smuggler goes around and visits the bed-bound residents, so that they have something or someone to talk to, even if there’s no one present.
“I’ve seen benefits in the homes I’ve worked in before. Anything about animals, people instantly love – they want to know about them; it’s educational.
The bird will take part in the pet therapy sessions alongside sibling Shih Tzus Frankie and Harry, as well an array of animals brought in by The Creature Teachers, who specialises in animal education.
Pet therapy is often cited as a means of helping those suffering with dementia, with benefits such as a reduction in anxiety and depression.
However, there are still sections of the medical community that are undecided as to whether the perceived advantages are grounded in scientific theory.
Nonetheless, research has shown that pets can be good for our general wellbeing.
Interacting with animals can lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduce and boost levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin.
Ms. Goktas said: “We had an owl visit at Great Oaks and the most amazing thing happened.
“One of the day care residents came up to me earlier that day and had said ‘I don’t want to go anywhere near those birds – I’m frightened of their flapping wings’.
“However, by the end of the session she had both of the birds on her arms with wings flapping against her head and it didn’t bother her at all!”