The chicks of the Kensington Coop have been a joy around Kensington, bringing fun, excitement and friendship to everyone at The Gardens.
Social isolation and loneliness can be harmful for health -- it can lead to depression, anxiety, changes in behaviour and more. With the pandemic, lockdowns and constant changes to long-term care visitation, isolation and loneliness can be even more prevalent for older adults living in long-term care.
In an effort to alleviate isolation and loneliness for those living at The Gardens, the Life Enhancement team hatched a clever idea: a new program called the Kensington Coop, a six-week program in which residents, along with staff, work together to hatch, play with, and grow baby chicks.
At this time last year, residents were confined to their rooms and floors in long-term care homes across the province to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
This year, long-term care homes resumed many normal activities for residents, prioritizing quality of life for people living in long-term care. At Kensington, our Life Enhancement team resumed many of the activities loved by residents including congregate dining, concerts, bingo, games, exercising, painting and more. But the team at The Gardens wanted to return to their ways prior to the pandemic of learning and experimenting with new creative, and engaging activities for residents:
“While chicks in long-term care isn’t unique in our province, our Life Enhancement team wanted to bring something new to our residents that hasn’t been done before at Kensington,” said Daisy Wong, Manager of Client Services. “We were excited by the response of the program from residents in other homes, and wanted to bring that experience to those living at The Gardens.”
The Kensington Coop, located in a spot that would be visible to all on the floor, allowed the opportunity for residents to be involved in the whole process of the birth of the chicks. Not only did residents and staff work together to hatch the eggs, but Life Enhancement incorporated fun elements for residents to prepare for the chicks. Residents and staff got together to construct swing sets, playgrounds, toys and more in anticipation of their hatching.
After a couple weeks, 12 chicks hatched, immediately bringing joy to residents, staff, and family members.
“What we saw was that the chicks brought back memories for residents of caring for a pet, reminiscing about the experience of being with animals,” said Daisy.
While the Kensington Coop brought nostalgia for residents, it also provided the opportunity for the Kensington community to connect with each other.
Even the staff at Kensington enjoyed their time with the chicks!
“Sometimes, residents don’t like leaving their room or socializing, so we’d bring the chicks to them and we’d see a complete change in their mood. They would instantly be excited and engaged,” said Daisy. “It allowed us to start a conversation and connection with residents who would not normally be conversive in a different one-on-one session.”
The chicks spent six weeks at Kensington, and while we were sad to see them go, they had a lasting impact on our community.
“Throughout their stay at Kensington, it was a wonderful experience having the chicks around. They joined and attended programs and activities with residents and kept them company throughout, such as in our concerts and music therapy group,” said Sarah Cheung, Music Therapist at The Gardens. “Together, with the residents, we even composed a song about the chicks.”
“The response to the program has been overly positive, not only for the residents, but for the staff and family members,” said Daisy. “People of all ages and disciplines, whether a doctor, nurse, resident or family member were always eager to see the chicks, and it brought everyone joy.”
While the Kensington Coop was a short-term program, one question that is on the minds of residents, family members and staff: when will the chicks be back?
“The chicks not only brought our community together, but it brought hope and positivity in a gloomy and unprecedent time.”
Want to see more of our chicks? Visit our Instagram page and watch our highlights. Make sure to follow us to stay up-to-date on everything Kensington related.