Adults with learning disabilities in Aberdeen are bonding thanks to a flock of ducks.
Monitors from the Care Inspectorate watchdog visited Tigh-A’Chomainn care home in Peterculter on October 29 and praised the impact of the birds on the lives of people living at the facility in their report, which has just been published.
The home can look after up to nine adults and aims to help them explore their potential and limitations.
“People were proud to show us the large barbecue on the patio area, and told us they had enjoyed lots of outdoor meals and activities during the summer,” said the report.
It added: “There were resident ducks which people had a shared responsibility to care for and to collect eggs.
“People were proud of the home and their role in caring for it.”
Inspectors rated the home “very good” – the second best of six possible ratings.
One service user told them: “The home has been very good for me.
“I have learned new skills and have become very independent.
“Anyone looking to learn to live independently would do well to come here.”
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Residents share responsibility for caring for the animals, keeping them safe and collecting eggs, and bosses believe it can help them go on to achieve their potential.
Tom Marx, one of the centre’s managers, said: “The ducks are part of us trying to help people learn how to be responsible.
“They are also a really good icebreaker.
“I started about 10 years ago and we had the ducks then, so they have been here for a long time.
“My colleague started hand-rearing them from eggs two years ago so they have become very used to people.
“They are quite friendly. Some of the people here have autism and it is really important that their environment feels secure.
“Dogs are great in a lot of situations, but some of the time they can seem quite threatening.
“Because they are used to people the ducks don’t appear threatening at all. They help people feel secure in their surroundings.”
As well as helping residents feel at ease at Tigh-A’Chomainn, the animals have also proved a useful addition when it comes to the task of keeping the garden tidy.
“Part of making people responsible is challenging them to take care of their surroundings, and the ducks help with that,” Tom said.
“It gives people a level of control that they might feel they don’t have.
“It also helps them feel more confident. A really good example of that is a young man who came here and his parents said he wouldn’t go on the bus.
“A few months later, he was getting on the bus by himself to go to work.”