People living at St Joseph’s care home recently found themselves face-to-face with a menagerie of animals thanks to three special visits.

Earlier this month (Oct) residents at the Father Hudson’s-run home welcomed alpacas Perseus and Scooby Doo from Middle England Farm, who had braved wet weather to meet the residents.

People had a lovely time stroking the gentle pair and learning about alpacas from their handlers. Perseus and Scooby Doo have visited the home a few times and are always popular with residents and staff.

A week later Colin from Wings of Freedom travelled all the way from Berkshire to give the residents a birds of prey experience.

Residents, visitors and staff met Rocky the barn owl, eagle owls Stormin’ Norman and Vincent, and a kestrel called Lefty.

Colin talked about his birds – which are all rescue birds – and each species in general. Residents were keen to ask questions and learned about life expectancy, diet, training the birds and much more. Each bird was very characterful, with Rocky wanting to play and Norman sulking when he wasn’t allowed to fly off.

Colin took each bird around the room, giving them a chance to get used to people. Then he gave everyone the opportunity to stroke the birds if they wished.

One resident said: “It’s lovely to see them up close,” and a visitor said how much his mother had enjoyed the experience.

Children from neighbouring Child 1st Nursery also visited for an hour. They sat with residents and listened to Colin’s talk. Some were even brave enough to stroke the owls. It was a great opportunity to chat with the residents whilst enjoying a new experience and learning about birds.

The following day, Sarah from ZooLab brought animals from around the world to visit the home.

This session, however, was not for the fainthearted as she brought around a selection of creepy crawlies!

While some of the care staff shied away, residents were eager to hold and stroke the animals. They met Gary the giant African land snail and learned that this particular species of gastropod can grow to the size of a football.

Next was Colin, a Madagascan hissing cockroach. Sarah explained that Colin will only hiss when feeling scared or threatened, and that cockroaches have incredible survival capabilities. Despite some people disliking cockroaches, the residents happily stroked Colin and some even held him on their hand.

They also met Stacy, a millipede with 280 legs. Sarah told residents that millipedes are useful to have in your garden as they eat dead leaves and other decaying plant matter. Many of the residents let Stacy walk over their hands. With her abundance of legs, Stacy felt “like a hairbrush walking on you.”

Horace the Honduran curly-haired tarantula was brought out next, although he stayed in his tank.

Sarah explained that although tarantulas rarely bite, they will flick the hairs off their bodies in self-defence if they are threatened. With over a million of these hairs on his body, one resident joked that it was lucky he was naturally curly and didn’t need to use rollers!

Sarah also introduced residents to a beautiful corn snake named Severus, and a bearded dragon called Spike. Severus and Spike were the highlight, with many people holding and stroking them.

Afterwards, everyone said they had greatly enjoyed the event and were fascinated by the creatures they had met.

These activities are part of the rich tapestry of life at St Joseph’s care home, which strives to give the people living there memorable and stimulating activities.

Animal encounters such as these are known to lift people’s mood, offer comfort and boost wellbeing, amongst a range of other benefits.

St Joseph’s Care Home, Coleshill, is operated by Catholic social care charity Father Hudson’s Care.

To find out more about residency or respite contact St Joseph’s care home on 01675 434500 or visit the website here