A Sheffield care provider has been using Shetland ponies to bring comfort and joy to its dementia sufferers.
The specially trained animals visited all three homes operated by Fulwood-based Silver Healthcare recently.
Staff and relatives were hugely encouraged by the therapeutic and calming effect on residents brought about by the animals.
The three ponies – named Leo, Harry and Larry – spent time with scores of dementia sufferers and even travelled in the lift to visit residents in their bedrooms and lounges.
They even provided an unexpected pre-birthday treat for 92-year-old resident Maria Deakin.
Roy Young, managing director of Sheffield-based Silver Healthcare, said: “The visit counts as one of the most moving experiences I’ve ever had in all my decades of operating care homes.
“Several residents even burst into tears – they was visibly moved by the experience and the calmness of the animals and there couldn’t have been a better way to celebrate the forthcoming birthday of 92-year-old Maria Deakin.
“The team of pony handlers from 'Smile at Lightwood’ consisting of Kay Green, Lynn Jeffery and Kathy Elliss Whitham were absolute professionals and a joy to work with.
“The visit truly brought a smile to everyone’s face.”
They ponies visited Silver Healthcare’s Fulwood Lodge, Rosebank and Leahyrst homes. All three homes already provide a full calendar of events for residents.