Christmas Cheer for Banstead Care Home Residents

Staff and residents at Banstead-based care home The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society were feeling the festive cheer after a visit from Shetland pony Blossom and her furry friends as part of an animal therapy session.

The visit, delivered by Surrey-based Kingswood Shetland Ponies, takes place every Christmas at the maritime charity’s care home Belvedere House. This year, despite the Coronavirus pandemic limiting the Society’s programme of activities for residents, senior management were able to secure private rapid testing kits (LFDs) for visitors and entertainers, alongside other preventative measures already in place, to ensure residents were still able to experience the benefits of animal-assisted therapy.

Residents at the seafaring care home had the opportunity to spend time with Blossom as well as several guinea pigs and rabbits as part of a therapy session designed to help reduce anxiety and improve communication skills amongst the elderly residents. The sessions can also be particularly beneficial for those living with dementia.

The award-winning Society delivers expert care to former seafarers and their dependants at its home in Banstead. Lockdown restrictions have meant that the charity’s comprehensive activities programme has had to be put on hold and visits restricted in line with national guidelines, with the animal visit the first external activity to take place in the home since March.

Chief Executive of The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, Commander Brian Boxall-Hunt, said: “This year has been a difficult one for everyone and we know this is especially true for those who have been unable to visit family and friends living in care homes. The Society has been committed to ensuring safety in the home and ensuring the national guidelines have been followed thoroughly. Thanks to these rapid testing kits and the ongoing commitment of all our staff, we have been able to instil a bit of normality back into the lives of the residents at Belvedere House with a festive visit from our old friends at Kingswood Shetland Ponies.

“Our team provides excellent care for residents living in our care home, but we also know the importance of providing different entertainment and activities to keep residents active, promote wellbeing and combat loneliness. Whilst this has been difficult this year, having the residents be able to spend time with Blossom and friends reminds us of just some of the positives we can look forward to in the future.”

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