There was great excitement at Sunderland’s Tynedale care home this June when the team welcomed some new pet residents.

A clutch of five chickens and three guinea pigs are now ensconced in the home’s gardens, living in a hutch and coop built by the people supported at Tynedale.

The trio of guinea pigs – who are sisters – have been named Celine Dion, Mouse and Sooty, meanwhile the chickens are called Boris, Duck, Tommy and Chicken Nugget.

Tynedale manager Nicola Parker said one chicken is still waiting for a name.

She said: “The people we support have been asking for chickens and guinea pigs for ages, they were so excited on the day the animals arrived.

“We still have one chicken who hasn’t been named, but we’re sure inspiration will strike soon. It’s just lovely to see our people enjoying the time they spend with their new pets.”

Research shows that pet therapy has a positive impact on people living with learning disabilities. Studies have found that interaction with animals helped build confidence, boosted emotional wellbeing and improved social skills.

According to Nicola, some of the people they support have already taken on specific roles in the animals’ care.

“David goes to visit the hutch and coop every morning to make sure the chickens and guinea pigs are fed and watered and he also visits at night time to see that the animals are ready for bed,” explained Nicola.

“Once the chickens are old enough to lay eggs, we’ll be helping the people we support to collect them each day and we can use them in our kitchen. They are a great addition to our home.”

Meanwhile, David, one of the people supported at Tynedale, is particularly fond on one of the chickens.

“This is my chicken and she is called Tommy,” said David. “I like her as she is soft.  I will not cook her as I know she is my pet.”