THERE are four very popular new residents at Kapara aged care home in Glenelg South, SA and they've made themselves right at home.
Henny Penny, Chooky Looky, Chicken Licken and Priscilla are four hens who are bringing smiles to residents, at the ACH Group facility as well as staff, volunteers, family and a weekly group of visiting pre-schoolers.
ACH Group is the first aged care provider in South Australia and the second in Australia to introduce HenPower, a creative ageing program based around creative activities, arts, social connections and keeping chooks.
HenPower was launched in the UK by creative ageing charity Equal Arts in 2011 with the aim of using hen-keeping and creative activities to tackle social isolation, reduce depression and improve people's wellbeing.
It has since been rolled out to more than 40 care homes in the UK, bringing hens and arts to older people in care settings.
HenPower program manager Jos Forester-Melville said she sees "see time and again the positive impact the hens have on residents".
"This project gives people a role and responsibility with the hens providing the catalyst for building relationships and exploring creativity. Bringing creativity into care is a fantastic way to engage people and aid communication, especially for those living with dementia."
Kapara's hens were installed in Memory Support Unit Rose Cottage, thanks to the Hart family and their business PetStock, who donated and set up the hens, coop, feed and accessories.
A 'name that frizzle' competition was held residents voted on the best names for the frizzle hen, while other residents chose names for the isa brown and white leghorn hens.
Kapara senior manager Lyn Bertram says the chickens have settled in well.
"The residents just love them," she says. "For many of them, it brings back memories of their younger days, and they really enjoy handling them and petting them, feeding and looking after them. The kids and families from our weekly playgroup have really enjoyed having the hens around, too."
Resident Rhonda Fitzgerald, 92, said the chickens are "gorgeous". "You just want to pick them up and cuddle them. The chickens have brought so much joy to us all."
HenPower is part of ACH Group's Health Ageing Approach, which aims to make it as easy as possible for people to choose to remain active, remain connected and engaged in what they love. Ms Forester-Melville said HenPower has been shown to reduce loneliness and isolation.
Kapara staff take part in regular Skype sessions with the HenPower team in the UK who will offer advice with hen-keeping and how to actively engage older people in meaningful, creative activities.