Ont. seniors’ home adopts pair of ducklings for animal therapy program
A long-term care home in Fergus, Ont. has adopted two ducklings as part of an animal therapy program to give its residents a sense of purpose.
The ducklings -- named Sunny and Night because of their colouring -- were born on May 26 and arrived at Wellington Terrace the same day.
“We’ve been looking after them ever since,” said recreational therapist Caitlyn Cheyne.
Wellington Terrace has been trying to incorporate more animal interactions into their programming.
“We wanted to use [the ducklings] to reignite a sense of purpose and responsibility for our residents who are living in long-term care,” Cheyne said. “Our residents raise them and watch them grow. They take care of them by changing their cage, feeding them, making sure they have food and water, watching them grow. They’ll also do research in the beginning of the process to see what we need.”
Although the most common therapy animals are dogs or cats, Cheyne said the ducklings provide a sense of nostalgia for some residents.
“Most people living in long-term care, especially in this rural area, would have had animals throughout their lives. Whether they were on a farm or they just had a dog, or if they showed animals, it’s a nice connection for them,” Cheyne explained.
Marjorie Walser, a resident of Wellington Terrace, grew up on an acreage with a variety of animals. She said having the ducklings reminds her of her youth.
“I knew some things about the animals, but not everything,” Walser said. “This is very educational and very soothing to us because we can go and look at them and hear them chirping and everything. I think the residents really, really enjoy it.”
Since getting the animals one week ago, Cheyne said she’s noticed a difference around Wellington Terrace.
“A lot of the residents are looking for ways to contribute to the home - they want to help out,” she explained. “We’re also seeing it’s helping to reduce boredom and isolation because it brings residents out of their room, gets them connecting with other residents and staff in the building. It just is a mood booster in general, even for staff. Everyone just loves having animals around -- especially baby animals.”
Wellington Terrace got the ducklings through the RiverBound Farm Duckling Program. Cheyne said they will likely return the ducklings after six weeks, which is one of the options offered through the program.