A Visit from Alpacas

Alpacas are a rare sight in nursing homes. But here they are (see photo) visiting the Leonard Pulham Nursing Home in Halton. They even looked in on residents who wanted to see them but couldn’t leave their rooms.

Events like this are an everyday part of life for Liz Jones, who has just celebrated 26 years as Activities Organizer at Leonard Pulham.  Repeated inspections have praised the activities and stimulation provided for residents.  Liz’s role is crucial but she insists it’s a team effort involving nurses and all support staff. It is not just that everyone is respected as an individual; she says, “Our residents look forward to the interaction and activities.  If their personal routines aren’t followed sympathetically, they won’t have a sense of well-being and they won’t welcome the activity – and getting involved is always a choice for our residents”.

Some of the activities on offer are what you might expect: quiz afternoons, whist drives, knitting circles, visits from Pets as Therapy dogs, entertainers.  Perhaps more unusual are the interaction with local schools, visiting DJs, seated dancing, Tai Chi, exotic animals as well as a visit from Alpacas.

Liz, who lives locally, also take residents out on trips often using the Wendover Community Car and she and her two assistants spend time with residents who choose to leave their rooms only rarely.  Everyday there is something going on.  But Liz insists “There is no pressure, no cajoling.  After all this is their home and you choose what to do in your own home”.

In addition to Liz and her assistants, there are volunteers who help with quizzes, bingo etc. and act as befrienders.  All of this takes detailed coordination but also imagination.  “You have to try things and not everything works – an Elvis impersonator didn’t – so you also have to have a sense of humour”.

Caring for the whole person and not just providing for physical needs, is clearly a team effort. But no one would deny the contribution that Liz and her team makes to the well-being of Leonard Pulham residents.