Balhousie Care’s ‘lamb therapy’ featured on ITV This Morning

Balhousie Care Group’s popular dementia and intergenerational practice involving pet lambs this week caught the eye of ITV’s Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby.

ITV’s This Morning programme featured Balhousie Care’s Huntly care home in Aberdeenshire, which works with a local farm to arrange for newborn lamb visits to the home.

The day This Morning’s crew came to film, residents were joined by their friends from the local Rothiemay Playgroup, who visit them regularly. The finished story showed the positive effects of animal therapy on people with dementia, as well as the benefits of intergenerational activities.

The lamb visits are the brainchild of Balhousie Huntly’s activities coordinator Tanya Smith. The grand-daughter of a shepherd, Tanya grew up in rural Aberdeenshire, like many of the residents at the care home.

Tanya said: “We’ve been doing the lamb visits for four or five years now and it’s just a joy to see the smiles on residents’ faces and the calmness it brings them. It’s particularly special here as many residents have grown up on farms, so it triggers great memories for them.

Balhousie Care Group, which has dementia ambassadors in every home, has won national awards for its leading and innovative programmes for residents with dementia. Dementia Nurse Consultant Yvonne Manson, who was also featured on This Morning, is winner of the 2018 RCNi Leadership Award for her practices in dementia.

Yvonne said: “It’s not a case of one size fits all when it comes to dementia initiatives. Every person with dementia is different. But one thing that unites most people is a love of animals. You can’t deny the mood lift that pets bring to owners, and that’s what you’re seeing with pet and animal therapy.”

Tanya added: “To have the kids from Rothiemay Playgroup here is always a treat too. Special friendships have formed, and both the residents and the children really look forward to these visits.”

The story had presenters Philip and Holly oohing and ahhing, particularly seeing a lamb in a pull-up nappy!