Ponies brought Christmas magic to Surrey Care Home

Staff and residents at the Royal Alfred Seafarer’s Society enjoyed a Christmas visit from the ponies at Kingswood Shetlands and Friends

Staff and residents at Surrey-based maritime care home The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society,which has been providing housing, residential and nursing care to former seafarers, their widows, and dependants for more than 150 years, got into the Christmas spirit with a visit from the Kingswood Shetlands and Friends, among other festivities during December.

Regarded as an annual tradition at the Society’s care home Belvedere House, the Christmas ponies visit is part of an animal therapy session designed to help reduce anxiety and improve communication skills in the elderly residents. The sessions are particularly beneficial for those living with dementia at the home and are a continuation of the other animal therapy sessions that the Society holds throughout the year, which includes dogs and guinea pigs.

According to Bupa, stroking, brushing and grooming an animal can act as a form of therapy. Furthermore, actions such as these can also improve the control of fine motor skills and can help with tasks like eating, writing, and picking up objects.

The Society offers a full calendar of Christmas activities for residents that included Christmas carols performed by the Royal Alfred staff, Christmas card making, and festive quizzes and movies.

Commander Brian Boxall-Hunt, chief executive of the Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, comments: “The annual festive visit from our old friends at Kingswood Shetlands is one of our favourite events here at Belvedere House, and we were delighted to have welcomed them back again this year. We always have lots of different activities and trips planned throughout the year and the festive period is no different. Our team provides excellent care for residents living in our care home, but we also know the importance of providing different experiences to keep residents active, promote wellbeing and combat loneliness.”

Sarah Lopez Founder of Kingswood Shetlands and Friends adds: “We have been visiting the Royal Alfred for many years now and it is always a pleasure to bring the ponies and see how much joy they spark amongst the residents. It is fantastic to know how much of a difference these animals can make to the lives of elderly people. Equine therapy has proven to be a powerful antidote to the feelings of loneliness, dependency and isolation often experienced by seniors who are unable to live in their own homes or with family members, and the ponies love all of the attention they get on the day – we already can’t wait for next year’s visit!”


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