Care Supplement: February 2023

Round & About


Make the right choices to help you or your loved one make the most of their later life

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Man’s best friends

“Pets just make us feel happier” – the simple reason why many elderly people benefit from the companionship of an animal

We are a nation of pet lovers and for many this doesn’t change just because you have to enter a care home – man’s best friend can become even more important at this time of life.

Ill health, loneliness, depression and anxiety-related issues can all make later life harder but pets can help ease the elderly through and studies have shown that interacting with a dog, cat, rabbit, ducklings and even fish can kindle memories about past experiences and provide an opportunity to talk.

One charity which knows a thing or two about the benefits our furry and feathered friends can bring is Oxfordshire-based Pets As Therapy who say a PAT pet can improve a person’s mental health and overall wellbeing, adding that there’s often an increased connection with carers and family too, and those living with dementia can feel energised and elated, “It comes down to a very simple truth: pets just make us feel happier”.

The charity was founded in 1983 by dog owner and volunteer Lesley Scott-Ordish and as it enters its 40th year, its vision remains unchanged to ensure everyone has access to the companionship of a pet regardless of their circumstances. In addition to its work in care homes, Pets As Therapy also extends the services to schools, hospitals and prisons.

More than 4,000 volunteers go out and about with their animal friends extending the paw or claw of friendship to day care centres, residential homes and hospices as well as the other facilities. Pets As Therapy volunteers are pet owners who give up their time to help, if you would like to help find out more and apply at

One such home company which has benefited from the love and attention of a PAT dog is Brendoncare which has homes in and around Alton and Winchester in Hampshire and at Froxfield near Marlborough.

Staff and residents there have seen first hand the positive effects of the joy and companionship that animals can bring.

Rebecca Spicer, Volunteer and Activity Manager at Brendoncare, said: “Wellbeing is so much more than the word games and outings. Bringing animals to show our residents adds an element of home: a visiting PAT dog, social farm experience or even a pet animal for the home adds to this.

“Animals bring love and comfort to our residents, and for them the nurturing feeling of caring or parenting something is familiar. In practice all residents have a natural instinct to stroke a dog, hold a chick or pet a horse. It’s those integrated moments that are engrained in our memories that give us that warm fuzzy ‘good’ feeling in our tummy.”

Animals offer unconditional love and companionship. Sometimes, they provide a level of companionship that people can’t and many find interacting with pets such as simply stroking their fur to watching their antics can have a very calming and reassuring benefit.

Animal visits to care homes can bring back fond memories for residents, with many remembering previous pets or happy times with friends and family when they come face to face with visiting animals.

Brendoncare Alton recall a recent visit by a range of farm animals which for one resident was a special afternoon as he reminisced about the pig farm he used to run and remembered precious memories for him and his family – whilst stroking a pig!

Animals give residents a break in routine and something they can look forward to. But that’s not all – research suggests that animals and their calming nature and affection can offer health benefits such as lowering people’s blood pressure and heart rate, increasing levels of oxytocin (the stress-reducing hormone) and decreasing the production of the stress hormone cortisol.

Brendoncare say that while they love seeing their residents’ excitement when they get to hold a duckling or stroke a donkey, their lovely smiles aren’t the only benefit of petting these animals. Stroking an animal’s fur/feathers, hearing their unique sounds, holding them in their lap, feeding them and grooming them are all interactions which provide great sensory stimulation for residents and are particularly beneficial for people with dementia.

Brendoncare Park Road in Winchester helped welcome some baby ducklings into the world and alongside the familiar caring and nurturing aspects that bring back familiar feelings, cuddling and petting the ducks also provided sensory stimulation.

Find out more at

In addition to the work of charities such as Pets As Therapy in care homes, many residential homes welcome residents to bring their much-loved pets with them with they move in recognising the benefits to older people – improving mental wellbeing, decreased dementia rates, a sense of purpose and fun.

View the interactive care map

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Education Guide: Winter 2023

Round & About


As the new year starts for many it will mean a change in education or time to think about something new, read on for ideas

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Make a splash at school

An initiative launched by The Outdoor Guide Foundation is helping provide Waterproofs and Wellies to state primary schools to allow pupils to enjoy their childhood

As a child, there’s nothing like the simple pleasure of splashing in a puddle. But to do this without being told off and getting too wet, you need the right clothing.

Sadly many children in state primary schools do not have these basic “tools” – Wellington boots, a hooded waterproof jacket and over trousers – to enable them to get out and enjoy this most innocent of pastimes.

However, thanks to The Outdoor Guide Foundation many are now being given this opportunity through the Waterproofs and Wellies Project, the first of what it is hoped will be several similar schemes from the foundation to help disadvantaged children make the most of the natural world around them.

The Outdoor Guide Foundation is the charitable arm of The Outdoor Guide, a free walking tool founded by TV presenter Julia Bradbury and her sister Gina, which aims to make the outdoors more accessible
for all.

Waterproofs and Wellies splashed onto the scene in March 2021 with CBeebies presenter Gemma Hunt launching the initiative alongside Gina. Gemma said: “I am thrilled to be supporting this wonderful initiative and encouraging more children to get outside. The kits provide the basic gear that will allow children to have wonderful outdoor experiences when at school, whatever the weather!”

The goal is to donate 10 sets of wellies and waterproofs to every state primary school in the UK – a whopping 20,000 – to make the outdoors more accessible for all, allowing youngsters to experience, understand and protect nature. The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns proved the benefits of being able to get outside: educational, social interaction and empathy, enhancing wellbeing, reduction in anger, stress and anxiety, improved physical fitness and community engagement.

The Children’s Society says spending time outdoors and in nature enhances a young person’s short and long-term wellbeing. It is also known to improve mental development and personal fulfilment, all of which is endorsed by Mind, advocates of the health benefits of outdoor activities in all age ranges including a reduction in anger, stress, anxiety and an increase in physical fitness as well as a sense of balance and personal awareness.

Waterproofs and Wellies is the result of working with reputable suppliers to source the best value kit with the sale cost for the whole kit just £30. The not-for-profit project donates 10 various-sized kits to a school for them to decide how to distribute at their discretion. Schools and parents can buy extra kits at the same cost.

Julia says: “I am thrilled to be supporting this and encouraging more children to get outside in all weathers! These packs have been sourced as the basic gear that will allow children to have wonderful outdoor experiences, whatever the weather.”

If you can help, please donate at

£30 – will buy and deliver one complete kit to a school

£300 – will buy and deliver 10 complete kits to a school

£1,200 – will buy and deliver 40 complete kits to four schools

£10,000 – will provide kits for schools you choose in a specific area

Teachers, to find out more and nominate your school visit

Get involved

Waterproofs and Wellies are calling on businesses to help support the project too – every business which donates £300 to the initiative will receive a certificate thanking them for their gift for putting something back into the community and will be able to choose which schools they support.

Thanks to the generous donations so far, The Outdoor Guide Foundation has been able to help more than 200 schools since the launch. Businesses interested in getting involved in Waterproof and Wellies should email Gina at [email protected] or call 0203 393 5084.

View the interactive schools map

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