Care Home Residents Enjoy Bird Song Thanks to Lough Neagh Partnership
Residents of care homes in Co Antrim and Co Armagh have been enjoying bird song from new visitors to their gardens thanks to the ‘Birds in Care Homes’ initiative from Lough Neagh Partnership. Aimed at connecting people with nature and reaching those who have experienced isolation due to the continued impact of the pandemic, Lough Neagh Partnership has installed cameras and feeders into the gardens of six care homes to enable residents to appreciate and connect with local wildlife while boosting their mental health and general wellbeing.
Speaking about the project, Julie Ann McStravick, Personal Activities Leader at Ann’s Lisnisky Care Home in Portadown, said: “This initiative has been absolutely fantastic for our residents and staff alike. We have a new-found love of nature and love to hear the birdsong and chatter as we refill the feeders on our morning walks around the grounds of the care home. It has evoked great memories for some residents who have been reminiscing about their relationships with birds and wildlife from their childhoods.
“Technology has played a huge part in involving all the residents and it truly is an all- inclusive initiative. For those who stay in their room full time we have installed window feeders and residents like Patricia Matchett love to see their feathered friends at their windows. Some are able to watch the bird activity from the cameras installed in the feeders on the iPad from the comfort of their own room and using bird identification cards, some have spotted goldfinches and starlings swooping down for their breakfast. Residents have even seen squirrels feasting from the feeders and we have extended the initiative to incorporate arts and crafts. Residents have been drawing birds and colouring them in for their own personal project books.”
Resident Bob Richardson said that he enjoys coming out to feed the birds. He said: “I used to breed budgies and canaries and getting involved in this project takes me right back. I just love to help with the feeding and it’s a great reason to come out of my room for a walk.”
Resident David Duprey has a wonderful view of all the activity from his window. David said: “I lived in the country so I’m very well used to wildlife and I have a great view as the camera and feeder are just outside my window. I see the birds hiding in the bushes patiently waiting for their food first thing in the morning and I keep an eye out for when the feeder needs refilled.”
Resident Bernie Donnelly said: “I love watching the birds and I feel refreshed when I’m able to get out and enjoy nature. It’s such a lovely sight to see the little birds coming down to get fed.”
Peter Harper of Lough Neagh Partnership said: “This project has brought so much joy to the team at Lough Neagh Partnership as we have witnessed the enjoyment it has given to the residents of Lisnisky Care Home and the others in Co Antrim and Co Armagh that are participating in the initiative. The beauty about this project is that it can be enjoyed all year round as the residents will be able to watch the winter activity of our feathered friends from televisions and tablets in their room without having to go out in the cold. We wanted to provide those suffering from isolation and those in rural communities an opportunity to appreciate nature and with the help of technology we have found the perfect solution for bringing birds into care homes.”
For further information about the work of Lough Neagh Partnership, please visit: www.loughneaghpartnership.org or follow Lough Neagh Partnership on facebook at: www.facebook.com/loughneaghpartnership.