Friendly Horses Help Bring Back Memories for Care Home Resident
Joan Rollason, a resident at RMBI Care Co. Home Zetland Court, in Bournemouth, has had a lifetime spent with horses. Now, at 99 years old, she still remains passionate about them.
When Sue Wiffen, Zetland Court’s Deputy Home Manager for the Dementia area, recently sat with Joan on her bed, she noticed that the resident had a magazine about horses on her lap. While she was stroking the magazine, resident Joan said: “You never forget the way a horse feels… but I will never feel it again.” Staff member Sue was so moved that she knew the Home had to do something about it.
Staff member Sue Wiffen immediately contacted an old friend of hers, who owns a stable yard, and asked her to make the yard as accessible and safe as possible for resident Joan’s wheelchair. Then, without telling resident Joan where they were going, her son Mike and staff member Sue Wiffen drove her to the stable yard.
The surprise was guaranteed. As soon as they arrived, resident Joan’s head turned towards a beautiful black horse in a field. Her eyes shone with an irrepressible twinkle of amazement. “Joan had the time of her life,” said Zetland Court’s staff member Sue Wiffen. “Not only was she emotional the whole time, but she also clearly remembered how to act around horses – much better than we did! She knew how to feed the ponies, lead them and talk to them, just like a horse whisperer.” Kelly, the stable yard’s owner, was also amazed about how resident Joan could tell the height of all the horses at a glance.
After spending time with most of the horses and ponies, resident Joan wanted to visit the black horse she had spotted when they first arrived. The owner said that horse was a bit too excitable, but resident Joan was determined to see it. Making sure she was safe at all times, they all accompanied her to the black horse, which was behind a fence.
Resident Joan pulled herself up to the fence and whispered to the horse. “Once she started talking to him, the horse was absolutely calm. It was amazing!” said Zetland Court’s staff member Sue Wiffen. “I can’t believe this is happening to me,” repeated resident Joan several times during the day.
Zetland Court’s staff members have now created an album of resident Joan’s visit to the stable yard, so she can look at the photos and reminisce.