Hen-keeping – a cracking new therapy for older people
The Guardian recently ran an article about a project” Henpower” that lets people in sheltered housing and care homes keep hens. It has shown that this can reduce depression, loneliness and the need for antipsychotic medication.
Henpower was set up by the charity Equal Arts in 2011 with the aim of using hen-keeping to tackle social isolation, reduce depression and improve people’s wellbeing. Equal Arts’ director, Douglas Hunter, explains how the project began. “We had been working in a care home when a resident with dementia was talking about his girls. It turned out ‘the girls’ were his hens. He missed the routine of caring for them.” So Equal Arts spent £300 on a secondhand hen house and six hens. By the time the hen house needed replacing, four months later, the staff were so convinced of its value they paid for a new one out of their own pockets.
Equal Arts was subsequently given funding from the Big Lottery Fund to test the project in further sites in north-east England. Its success was such that it now has £1m to extend it to other areas.
A 12-month study of the project by Northumbria University in 2012-13 found that Henpower is improving the health and wellbeing of older people, and reducing depression, loneliness and the need for antipsychotic medication in care homes.
The full article can be read following: