West Park Health Centre resident Jeanette Gallagher holds a snake during a trip to the Bird Kingdom at the Niagara Falls Aviary, while animal-care specialist Jamee Occampo looks on.
Residents get their wings
St. Catharines home sees large-scale turnout for aviary visit
A unique activity made possible through a community outreach program offered by the Bird Kingdom at the Niagara Falls Aviary recently saw West Park Health Centre residents connect with some feathered friends for “a real sensory experience.”
Through the aviary’s community outreach program, residents and staff members spent time at Bird Kingdom learning about birds and other animals. Representatives then visited the Diversicare long-term care home with some of the birds and other creatures, including parrots, lorikeets, lizards and a tarantula, to ensure the residents who couldn’t make the trip were still able to benefit.
“It was a real sensory experience, too, because residents could see the colourful parrot and hold him on their arm, and with some of the different lizards they got to touch them and feel the different textures,” says recreation manager Tara Schleich, adding it was many residents’ first experience seeing such exotic creatures up close.
“This was really making use of the community resources that we have out there.”
An additional benefit was the high resident turnout for the event, with about 25 of the home’s 93 residents participating.
Schleich notes that many residents who do not typically participate in programming came out to see the birds and other animals, a testament to the value the outreach program is bringing to people.
In fact, one resident, who admitted she was scared of birds, participated in the outing and, with some encouragement, enjoyed her time spent with the birds, says Schleich.
Given the home’s success with the program, Schleich says she hopes to again bring Bird Kingdom to the home, as well as visit the site.
“It’s nice to be able to offer residents something different that we don’t normally have on our day-to-day programming,” she says.
Click here for more information on Bird Kingdom at the Niagara Falls Aviary.
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