Every January for the past five years, residents and team members in Care UK homes have run events to celebrate birds. What started as participation in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch has snowballed into a nationwide celebration of all things avian. In the first year, residents put out various bird feeders and food including home-made fat balls then made notes on what birds turned up to enjoy the feast.
Since then this has grown and grown to include making care home gardens more wildlife-friendly, creating and decorating nest boxes, bird song reminiscence sessions, talks from bird experts and visits from rescued birds of prey and owls. Some intrepid care home residents have even braved the chill of January to visit their local nature reserves.
Residents at Scarlet House, in Stroud, have been finding out more about British birds and have created home-made bird boxes for their garden.
Winchcombe Place Newbury, was visited by Berkshire Birds of Prey. Residents learnt all about birds of prey and meet them up close as the birds fly around the home.
Residents at Smyth Lodge, in Sidcup, built a bug hotel and baked some delicious bird shaped treats.
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Spending time outside, connecting with nature and taking part in creative activities all have great benefits for both physical and mental wellbeing, which is important for older people, and particularly for those living with dementia.
The sensory stimulation of the colourful sights and beautiful sounds of the garden can also be a great reminiscence activity, and bring memories from many years ago to the surface. It can be a fantastic way to prompt a conversation and encourage intergenerational exchanges between older people and their children or grandchildren. Whether it’s memories of robins picking out worms from grandad’s gardening or feeding ducks in the local park, everyone has a memory to share of their favourite British bird.
Care UK is encouraging families with older relatives – particularly those living with dementia - to use this special weekend to have their own celebration of birds. And to take part in counting the birds in their own garden or local open space as part of the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch.
To find out more about the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, please go to rspb.org.uk