I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Jeffrey, and I am your friendly neighbourhood pigeon.
I’m not just a regular pigeon though, nope, I would also like to class myself as a ‘therapy pigeon’. I wanted to just cluck-coo in and tell you about some exciting goings-on that I have seen recently over at my resident service (where I live) called Adderley Green Care Centre in Stoke.
Before I go any further let me tell you a little bit more about my home. I live in the heart of Bentilee, near Stoke-on-Trent, next to the bus depot, meaning I get to see all the visiting families and friends and watch the residents that live here heading out to the surrounding towns and cities. Adderley Green is a modern, purpose-built neurological care centre which has been designed specifically to support the needs of individuals who have complex care and rehabilitation needs. A strange place for a pigeon to live you might ask. Well, no, as they have several units all of which provide homely environments, several kitchens, indoor garden areas, music room, a library, cinema rooms, an onsite public house, and access to greenhouses and a large garden. It’s a little community for an old pigeon like me, everything in one space. Now you may underestimate my capabilities of retaining all this information, but a little-known fact which I’m proud of is that I have amazing visual, numerical and memory abilities, and I am incredibly smart!
I digress, anyway I have lived here for about 3 years, and I have learned a lot in that time. The best thing is that every year at this time they start with their gardening competition called Can You Dig It. I love judging the competition and I will be telling you about as it happens from a bird’s eye view.
I was waddling across the roof this beautiful morning when suddenly I heard lots of laughter and commotion. I wondered what was happening and as I peeked my little head around the corner, I heard someone exclaim it was “plant a flower day!” My wings shook with excitement at the idea of fresh leaves after such a hard winter and I wanted to get a closer look. I headed onto a windowsill, feeling peckish (get it? pigeon, peckish…). I saw lots of pots full of dirt and lots of seeds ready to be planted. What a way to welcome spring! I was so excited but then quickly disappointed as they were behind some glass, and I realised no amount of pecking would get me in, but they looked so tasty!
My knowledge led me to recall that this is the indoor potting area, which is mainly used for easy access for some of the residents with dementia. They were engaged in the planting of these seeds and was nice to see them socialising with other residents. Afterwards I heard the lady saying this was a great way of using their hands and fine motor skills to plant the seeds, get some exercise and build strength and mobility.
I sat for a while trying to work out how I could get my little beak into them when I heard them talking about preparing a bed and doing some digging, and this was where I started to get excited. Some people came outside with some strange tools and started to mix up some dirt in a brick table. Immediately my first thought was “FRESH SLUGS”!! My taste buds tickled, and I can tell you that yes, there was some I could see…. such a delicious snack to be had later once they have moved.
I patiently watched as they removed all the awful weeds from the winter whilst discussing that soon, they will put luscious seeds into the fresh turned mud. They had some new beds outside which are raised, and I could see some of the residents in wheelchairs were able to help with the gardening! From previous years I recall that this is a great way of them having upper limb rehab, helping with watering the plants and the like. This also assists memory retention as they will keep coming back and to try and recall what they have planted previously. They were all very engaged in the gardening activity with lots of concentration and a lot of happy chatter amongst the group.
I got excited. Helping these little seeds grow is no small feat and I for one cannot wait to share the journey with them – and I invite you to share with me.