Published on: 1 August 2019
Two new friends have taken up residence in a highly desirable two-storey apartment at Audrey House in Kingsway Hospital in Derby.
The mental health rehabilitation unit has taken delivery of a pair of 12-week-old guinea pigs, and they are already proving popular.
The guinea pigs have no names as yet, but they are already getting lots of attention from service users at the Trust facility, some of whom helped to choose the new pets.
The project is the brainchild of Trust Occupational Therapist Holly Thacker (pictured), who is hoping that looking after the animals, including handling them and cleaning them out, will be therapeutic for service users at the unit and support their recovery.
The guinea pigs, both males, are brothers, and will be named by the service users. Suggestions are being taken for names for one or both of the pair. Four pairs of names will be chosen at random and then residents will have the final vote. Among the favourites so far are Bramble and Willow.
The guinea pigs have every luxury in their new green-painted hutch, with straw bedding, a ladder to the ground floor and even a thermal cover to keep them cool in the summer and warmer in the winter. If the weather turns really cold, there is a rota of eager Trust colleagues who have volunteered to take them home overnight as needed.
Holly added: “We are going to do some evidence-based research on pets and how they can be therapeutic. Having the guinea pigs here has already had massive benefits, with the patients being really keen to come and see them and handle them.”