Animal magic to help people with dementia

Members of MIND Active Dementia Community Group on a visit to Whitehouse Farm.
Members of MIND Active Dementia Community Group on a visit to Whitehouse Farm.

Whitehouse Farm Centre near Stannington has teamed up with Northumberland-based dementia support charity MIND Active to host regular visits for people living with dementia and their carers.

The trips to the attraction aim to help tackle isolation by providing support, friendship and fun through dementia-friendly activities in a safe and caring environment.

The days at Whitehouse Farm have been added to the charity’s activity programme for 2018, following two successful pilot sessions involving a group of 25 older people with dementia, their carers, loved ones and bereaved carers who have lost loved ones to the disease.

Stephen Ward, founder and project manager at MIND Active in Bedlington, said: “Living with dementia can be extremely isolating. At MIND Active, we have witnessed people affected by dementia benefit immensely just by being part of the community.

“By offering a variety of socially-interactive events, we successfully lift the mood of loved ones, carers and those with dementia by helping them to enjoy quality time together, away from the confines of their own home, supported by people who understand and who are very often in the same situation.

“This is why working together with such enthusiastic and understanding local activity providers like Whitehouse Farm Centre is so important to us and the families that need our support.

“We are delighted to have a new partner in the Whitehouse Farm Centre – its team has been absolutely brilliant.

“The care and attention they took with each group meant everyone had an opportunity to meet and experience hands-on sessions with some of the centre’s animals, chat to the keepers and enjoy the day at a pace which suited them.”

Whitehouse Farm Centre celebrates its 21st birthday this year. Working with local charities like MIND Active is enabling the farm to reach out to new community groups.

Dawn Peters, events coordinator at Whitehouse Farm Centre, said: “Even though older people or those with dementia can experience mental or physical infirmities, their age or condition shouldn’t be a barrier to socialising, mixing with the general public or even enjoying new experiences.

“At Whitehouse Farm, we have an ideal set-up to welcome older visitors with so much they can enjoy.

“Working with Stephen and the volunteers at MIND Active has been an extremely rewarding experience and we are looking forward to welcoming them back on a regular basis so they can socialise, meet the animals, enjoy a hearty meal and generally have a great day out in a relaxed and happy environment.”