Willows Estate resident Shirley Wiley greets a parrot brought to the Aurora home recently by Hands On Exotics.
'It was probably one of the best programs since I've been working here'
LEC says exotic animal show was engaging for all residentsJuly 17, 2012
Willows Estate recently had birds, a snake and even a tarantula wandering around, and life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Teddy Mazzuca couldn’t have been happier — that’s because the creatures were at the Aurora long-term care home as part of a program that engaged nearly every resident.
This wasn’t just any program, she says, adding Hands On Exotics co-owner Seth Falk was on-hand to show residents the animals and explain each one.
Residents were only too happy to hold on to a snake or tarantula, notes Mazzuca.
“It was probably one of the best programs since I’ve been working here — I feel it was so successful,” says Mazzuca, who has been working almost 30 years at the Willows.
“It was educational because (Falk) would describe the animal and then he would go individually to every resident to let them feel it, touch it, hold it. I couldn’t believe it, it was so good.”
Residents with cognitive impairment reacted especially well to the exotic animals, “which is amazing,” says Mazzuca.
“They actually would move their hand to touch it or to hold their hand out to hold it. I think that’s why it was so good — we got a reaction out of every single resident who was at the program.”
Resident Thelma Montpol says her only complaint is that the show didn’t last longer.
“The show was very interesting,” she says. “(I) enjoyed holding the animals (and) the spider felt like silk.”
Mazzuca says the home learned about Hands On Exotics after one of the company’s staff members stopped by Willows Estate to explain the benefits of including exotic animals in programming.
The program went so well the LEC says plans are in the works to bring Hands On Exotics back to the Willows. The next visit from Hands On Exotics will feature some new visitors, too.
“(Falk) also has two monkeys he plans to bring,” she says.
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