Jeanette’s feathered friends provide extra comfort at Irchester nursing home

Jeanette with her feathered friends
Jeanette with her feathered friends

A nursing home in Irchester is helping a resident to keep her 60-year love for birds alive.

Jeanette Warden from Higham Ferrers has an anxiety disorder and is bipolar so being able to keep her four budgies with her was an essential factor when she decided to move into care.

Gino Centini with Oscar at The Cottage in Irchester

Gino Centini with Oscar at The Cottage in Irchester

And The Cottage nursing home in High Street was more than happy to welcome Peter, Suzie, Mickey and Pixie who live in a cage in Jeanette’s room.

Research by the animal charity, Blue Cross, found that two thirds of pet owners would be ‘devastated’ if they had to give up their pet to go into care.

Jeanette, 71, said: “I get so much comfort from them I couldn’t have been parted from them.

“I’ve had them for six years now.

“Peter rules the roost and Suzie is very affectionate.

“When I was more able I used to let them sit on my shoulder and Suzie would rest against my cheek if I was sad.”

Jeanette has kept birds for more than half a century.

Her uncle bought her first one when she was just 10 to help her get over being frightened by a pet bird that flew at her at her cousin’s birthday party, and she has loved them ever since.

She’s kept finches and canaries, but now enjoys the company of four budgies.

The Cottage’s home manager Felicity Bucknall-Hart said: “We knew how important the birds were for Jeanette’s well-being so there was never any question of her not being able to bring them with her.

“People may have had their pet for more than a decade and to give up that relationship can be extremely difficult and stressful.

“We welcome pets at The Cottage because they offer companionship and a sense of purpose in looking after them.”

Blue Cross research also found that although 40 per cent of residential homes claim to be ‘pet friendly’, many people have to settle for their pet visiting rather than living with them.

Jeanette can also enjoy visits from Oscar Dog Therapy, a Tibetan terrier who visits every week with his owner, Alison Hadley.

Stroking dogs like Oscar has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and release endorphins that help residents to feel calmer.

Felicity added: “Many of our residents love having Oscar in the home.

“For example, Gino Centini worked on a farm and had animals around him on a daily basis.

“Although his speech is extremely limited now we know how much he gets out of the dog’s company and that’s wonderful to see.”