One of the most difficulties involved in the running of care homes is coming up with new experiences for the residents.
But staff at St Philips Care Home in Hawick showed on Friday that different is definitely on the menu at their Buccleuch and St Margaret’s care centres, with the visit of two cuddly alpacas.
In the past, dogs and even Shetland ponies have been brought in as animal buddies for the residents, but this is the first time the establishment has tried using the South American camelid as a form of pet therapy.
The alpacas in question, Rory and Pearson from Velvet Hall Alpacas in Innerleithen, were a little hesitant when entering the building but soon chilled out ... especially when their hosts fed them slices of carrot.
And the residents themselves were certainly delighted to see them.
Audrey Hamilton’s face was a picture as she held out carrots for Pearson.
The 95-year-old said: “They are incredible. They are absolutely beautiful, and so soft.”
She told Pearson: “You are a beauty, and I’m glad to have seen you today. I hope you have a safe journey home.”
Every resident had a chance to meet the beasts.
Myra Barron, who is 83, said: “Well, this is a different kettle of fish.”
And George Gillie, 81, told us: “They are just great, they can come back any time.”
And when 86-year-old Margaret Scott was complimented on her feeding skills, she quipped: “I don’t think there any knack or special skill to it ... I think they’d eat a whole bucket of carrots.”
Manageress Lisa Lothian was delighted with her charges’ response to the visit.
She said: “Just look at their faces.
“I think they have all definitely enjoyed it.
“It’s not every day you see an alpaca in your living room, is it?”
Looking after the alpacas was Jean Macdonald of Velvet Hall Alpacas, who said she was hoping to take them along to more such establishments.
She said: “Generally speaking, they just seem to put a smile on people’s faces.
“Sometimes, I think the visits are just as well received by the members of the staff as much as the residents.
“These two boys are very tame ,,, they do weddings as well,
“But I’m hoping to take them to more hospitals and care homes in the near future.”