Nursing Home Visit

Last year I was approached by a forward-thinking nursing home director about installing a flock of chickens at her facility. The memory loss residents spend their days in a room looking over a lush green – and boring – lawn. She thought that a flock of busy, chatty hens would engage and delight the residents. I was brought on to consult on this project. I selected the coop, and will train the staff who will care for the hens. I’m also providing the pullets, which is why there are 26 chicks in my brooder. I’ll be saving the five most distinctive, calm, healthy and friendly of the lot to live at the nursing home.

In the meantime, I’ve been meeting some of the residents through programs that involve me talking, and chickens being their charming selves. Yesterday I brought five chicks to the home. Already, the benefits of having chickens in their lives was quantifiable. An elderly and oppositional woman who usually paces the halls, sat for the full hour of my presentation, smiling and fully engaged. A resident who is usually reticent to talk up asked a question.

Because of privacy concerns, I can’t show photos of the residents, but I can show you this, which, I think, says it all.


Terry Golson and a chick visit a nursing home.


  1. What an absolutely wonderful idea! I have sad memories of visiting my grandfather in a home and of the residents “parked” in the corridors, nothing to do, nothing to see. It’s great to see a, basically, simple idea make such a profound difference.

  2. That’s wonderful, you must get an awful lot of satisfaction from this. Good on you Terry xxx

  3. What a touching photo, and I love your program. Thank you so much for being so committed to such a caring and thoughtful project.


  5. HOOORAY!!!for you Terry,
    what a wonderful way to give back to those who are most in need now!!
    May the people at the home enjoy watching the chickens and the visits from you.

  6. Terry, a brilliant idea and brilliant way of carrying out this project. I can’t imagine how it would end up if a nursing home just randomly decided to do this on their own…

  7. My Mom is in a nursing home with a room with no view and no television except in the “common room” she would love to look at some chickens! What a fabulous idea this is….hope it catches on…They had something on the news about therapy dogs and how behaviors are miraculously changed when in contact with an animal. Amazing…..

  8. I am so inspired by what you are doing at the nursing home. I’m thinking about contacting one of the nursing homes in my area to see if they are interested in something similar – even if it is just bringing the chicks in for a visit.

    Thank you for what you are doing!

  9. Bravo Terry! :) Having seen nursing home conditions before, I can definitely say that chickens will brighten all their lives, both staff and residents. I suspect that chickens are good at perking up just about anyone’s life.

  10. Everyday I look for a blessing and everyday I get one or two or three. Sometimes people, sometimes animals and sometimes nature. Here today, on this post, I have found all three…….Thank you

  11. This is a ministry to so many people! The staff, the residents, the visitors….will all benefit! God bless you! Your story has spread to my Mother’s nursing home. I took our baby ducks for a visit, and challenged them to get some chickens for their courtyard!

  12. A friend takes her “therapy dog” on similar visits – using chickens/chicks is such a wonderful idea too.

    What can be more rewarding than enriching the lives of those in aged care facilities?

    Love the sweet picture of the chick receiving a gentle pat from one of the residents.

  13. My MIL spent her last years at a nursing home that had a chicken coop and raised (waist-high) garden beds. There was always activity out there. I loved seeing the residents with their great grand (prob great great grand kids) kids out there. I really think the kids visit more often to share the experience… which is a really really good thing. The residents all had their favorites and would talk about the chickens constantly.

    Unfortunately, the nursing home expanded and on the grounds where the garden and coop was, now stands a 3 story brick building… sometime progress sucks :(

  14. Great idea. Not only are chickens a great calming presence for the residents, they also get fresh eggs! What could be better. Unfortunately we are in the process of moving my father to a memory care residence…I wish he could be in one like that!

  15. Thank you Terry for your obvious love for the elderly. May God richly bless you.

  16. What a wonderful outreach. Please keep us posted on how it unfolds. I would be interested to hear more on how to set this up in my community. I am an RN and have first hand knowledge of how “life at the home” can be for some of these residents.

  17. Before I had children, I worked in a nursing home originally established for Holocaust Survivors. Getting them to connect with green spaces is so important. And in addition, this will be the ultimate pet therapy. Two birds with one stone! I am brought to tears by your generous spirit, Terry.

  18. What a wonderful idea! Thank you so much for helping with this.

  19. Terry this is so beautiful, and so touches my heart. Memory loss or not, the older we get, the more we realize the brevity and fragility of life. And, memory loss, age, or lack therof, watching chickens is relaxing and entertaining! This is a most wonderful gift you offer from your heart.

  20. Wow! I love this idea. My grandmother spent the last several months of her life in one of these homes. While the facility was well maintained and programs provided, there’s only so many options for the elderly. I KNOW this would have brought so much happiness to my grandmother, to be able to sit and watch and laugh with the chickens. Thank you to the director for having the idea and for being involved in making it happen. Wonderful!!

  21. I’ve been looking forward to hearing more about this project since you first mentioned it many months ago. I can’t wait to hear reports of the reactions to the pullets when they finally arrive. But for now… you’re right. That picture says it all.

  22. Great idea, Terry. Should be more of it here in Australian nursing homes. Sometimes they get a bit too paranoid about health concerns with animals on the premises.

  23. Terry, who knew you could visit nursing homes with chicks! Always had it in my heart to someday do that with therapy dogs, or even therapy cats. Now you’ve really got me thinking! Perhaps you have started something you could make into a “model” for other communities. You might have yet another facet to your life: traveling and sharing this new model for nursing homes and memory care centers. Another book needs to be written, too! I love seeing how what we love doing helps others! The circle of life. You go, Terry, and we will all be watching and cheering!!

  24. Terry: may I share that last pic on my FB page. It is just lovely. Their lives will be transformed due to the generosity of your time with them. Your website brightens my day, bless you.

  25. Very heart-warming and inspiring. I hope this is the start of a trend!

  26. Those older folks that live in elder facilities often have memory issues. The human mind will usually hold on to the older memories until the very end, that’s why old people can’t remember what they had for breakfast, but can remember something from 50 years ago in great and accurate detail.

    I’ll bet anything that soem fo these lucky residents will be reliving their childhood with those chickens running around! Not to mention the good tasting eggs the residents can eat!

  27. Who could resist a baby chick? Like kittens, they bring their own supply of love. This is a great program you’re starting, and I’m sure it will greatly enrich the lives of the residents. Good for you!