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Chicks helping to reduce loneliness in Rochdale care homes

Five care homes across Rochdale have each taken delivery of five chicks as part of a new initiative designed to help tackle loneliness and depression in older people. Staff from Crossroads Together are managing the project, which has been funded by Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group as part of its Strengthening Communities Grant scheme.

The Social Hen Homes Project is intended to bring together older people living in care home settings in Rochdale to combat loneliness and depression to gain a sense of purpose, being part of something worthwhile whilst improving wellbeing and social interaction through the keeping of hens.

Rosemary care home residents with chicks

Residents will be involved with feeding and caring for the hens as well as collecting eggs once the hens are old enough to start laying. Each of the five care homes has been provided with an enclosure for their hens along with enough feed, hay and equipment to last a year.

Paul Parlby, chief executive at Crossroads Together, said: “We’ve all seen the news stories about the numbers of older people who go for weeks without seeing anyone, and I’ve been delighted to see so many initiatives put in place locally in recent years to try and tackle social isolation. These schemes often focus on those living in the community however. There’s a growing recognition that older people in residential care also demonstrate worrying levels of loneliness.

“We’re hopeful that introducing hens to care homes will be catalyst to help bring residents together to create strong communities. This is the first time a scheme like this has been put in place in Greater Manchester. We’re really excited to watch the chicks grow and see how the residents enjoy caring for them.”

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Francesca Hawley, manager of Rosemary Care Home in Milnrow, Rochdale, added: “We’re so pleased with how the chicks are settling in. It’s brilliant to see our residents getting involved with their care and taking such an interest in how they are getting on each day. We pride ourselves on creating a community at Rosemary, and it has been wonderful to how engaged our residents have been with the chicks since they arrived. We can’t wait to collect our first eggs!”

The Social Hen Homes Project will be delivered in partnership with students and teachers from Hopwood Hall College’s animal management facility. The college will help support the project lead and will be on hand for on-going advice and to support the care homes with caring for their hens.