When it comes to maintaining their lifestyle and comfort, budgies do not come “cheep”.
But staff and mental health patients who look after a 24 budgie aviary at Leverndale Hospital’s Campsie House have agreed a deal with a local veterinary centre where dogs belonging to staff are walked by patients in return for medical care of any sick birds.
Many patients are animal lovers and enjoy the affection and friendship from any animal, but pets are not allowed to be kept on the wards.
Jim Henderson, Ward Manager, said: “Thanks to a Mental Health Services Grant of £5000 we were able to buy the budgies from a local breeder and build the aviary.
“We then began thinking about what to do if any of the birds became ill and one of our consultant psychiatrists said that they had a friend who is a vet and offered to speak to her.
“The 3 Mile Veterinary Centre in Paisley Road West is a really busy practice and staff who have dogs and take them into work can only walk them at lunch breaks, so they don’t get lunch themselves.
“We have solved this by organising patients to walk the dogs and the vets and other staff are delighted.”
And there are also health benefits for the patients as well as the animals, Jim explained:
“It can be difficult to encourage patients to get out and walk, but if they have a dog they will walk all day! It’s also a very therapeutic activity, patients are out in the fresh air and getting exercise.
“Many of our patients are long-term residents with learning difficulties, and this is a way to keep them occupied.
“Patients enjoy the responsibility of looking after the birds and aviary, topping up seed dishes, replacing fresh water and regularly cleaning out the cage, it’s a way of giving them purpose to their day.”
The dog walking takes place two to three days a week, and Michael, one of the regular “walkers” said:
“I really enjoy it, I really like animals, and this also gives me a chance to get some exercise.”
For more information contact NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Communications on 0141 201 4429.