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Creatures and seniors join forces : RSPB and Bupa bring wildlife to care homes in Powys

Last modified: 17 January 2011

Tubs and planters

Image: John Day

Watch carefully and you could see things flying, crawling, scuttling and foraging in care homes around Powys and the rest of the UK this year.

The RSPB has joined forces with Bupa to bring wildlife gardening to 12 of the health and care company’s care homes in Powys from 2011.

Using it’s Homes for Wildlife project, the RSPB hopes to encourage many species that are currently in decline in British gardens to the care homes, from house sparrows and song thrushes to butterflies, bees and hedgehogs.

The wildlife charity hopes that as well as creating more homes for birds and other creatures, the initiative will reignite a passion for wildlife among care home residents from their childhoods or spark a new interest.

Once the project is established, it will also provide Bupa's residents with the opportunity to  take part in wildlife related activities. Whether this be watching and observing birds on window feeders,  building and painting nest boxes or where possible, helping staff to create  new habitats like ponds , bog gardens  and wildflower meadows , residents will be offered a wide range of extra activities and a wealth of benefits.
Homes for Wildlife was piloted in a number of Bupa care homes in their Midlands and Wales  region in 2010. It started with a training day which was attended by activity coordinators, gardeners, maintenance staff and chefs from Bupa care homes . The day was jointly hosted by the RSPB and Bupa and attendees learnt how to identify opportunities to make the grounds of their homes more appealing to wildlife and  were  given ideas to  involve   residents , of all capabilities,  in wildlife related activities.

Almost 90% of those taking part in the pilot rated it ‘useful’ or ‘very useful’ prompting Bupa to start a roll-out of the programme across their UK homes in 2011 .

RSPB research indicates that for the elderly or those recovering from illness, close access to nature is important. The benefits of gardening also include increased physical and mental activity, a sense of purpose, and opportunities to develop friendships.

Mike Walker, reserve manager at RSPB Lake Vyrnwy in Powys, says: “There’s been loads of enthusiasm from staff and residents already about the benefits of this project. We know that access to wildlife and green spaces is important for people, especially the elderly or those recovering from illness. The benefits of gardening also include increased physical and mental activity, a sense of purpose and opportunities to develop friendships.

“Gardens and outdoor spaces are becoming increasingly important refuges for our native wildlife. As well as following our wildlife gardening advice, staff and residents will be able to monitor their results by taking part in regular wildlife surveys throughout the year.

“We hope both people and wildlife will reap the rewards of this partnership.”

Siobhan Drane of Bupa Care Services says: “ We are delighted that the pilot between Bupa and the RSPB has been so successful and we are busy planning the roll-out of the programme across our 305 care homes. We are looking forward to launching the partnership at our activity conferences which will take place in January across the UK and then we will begin to deliver the training.

“We pride ourselves in offering a wide range of activities that can be tailored to suit our residents needs and it’s great to see how enthusiastic about wildlife  our residents and staff are! Most Bupa care homes have gardens where there are opportunities for enjoying a wide variety of wildlife and as wildlife appeals to a wide range of people regardless of age or level of dependency this is a perfect partnership." 

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