VISITORS calling at a Morley care home may have been doubting their eyes.
Dogs, kittens and even the occasional chicken are no strangers to the residents at The Alexander on Victoria Road, who have welcomed opportunities to reconnect with the animals they grew up with in the past.
But Eeyore the donkey is certainly the biggest through the doors – and it didn’t take him long to make himself at home.
“Visits by animals have proved to be very theraputic, invoking memories of childhood and giving the residents a lift by providing them with something to stroke or hug so, when we received a poster advertising donkey visits arranged by the Elisabeth Svendsen Trust, we didn’t really hesitate,” said manager at The Alexander, Wendy Evered.
“Of course, we had to complete a risk assessment to ensure we met all the health and safety requirements involved in bringing a large animal indoors – but the benefits could be enormous and I’m sure the residents will be talking about it for weeks.
“When I brought my little Jack Russell in, one lady who hardly spoke at all became really animated and spent ages stroking him and chatting to him; contact with animals really does seem to help those who suffer from dementia or depression to come out of their shell.”
The trust – based at Eccup – also works with children, offering outreach and alternative therapy to youngsters with learning difficulties and disabilities.
Funded entirely by donations, it operates a number of donkey sanctuaries both in the UK and abroad. Eeyore is one of 19 donkeys at Eccup who visit locations all over Yorkshire – although most are within a 40-mile radius of Leeds.
“There are quite a few checks to do before we take a donkey inside – including parking for our vehicle, flooring, providing chairs so everyone can be seated and ensuring everyone wears appropriate footwear – but it’s rewarding to see so many happy faces,” said Cathryn Williams.
More information about the trust’s work is available online at: www.elisabethsvendsentrust.org.uk or by telephoning 0113 261 9249.