XENIA — Greenewood Manor residents recently got a special visit at their windows — from a pair of horses.
Teton and Lacy, two equine therapists from Finally Home Farm — a Xenia Township non-profit offering certified equine therapy — made the trip into town to cheer up some locals. Residents watched the horses in the nursing home courtyard from the enclosed sun porch and a few bedroom windows.
Greenewood Manor Activities Coordinator Victor Rubio said the experience last Friday was particularly special due to current COVID-19 restrictions on in-person visitations.
“All the residents enjoyed it since we have had a hard time — we haven’t had any visitors, we can’t have vendors. Usually we have entertainment once month,” Rubio said. “So they really did enjoy the two horses … It made their day.”
Tim Spradlin, director of Finally Home Farm, came up with the idea after seeing a news report on a horse visit to another nursing home. His mom lives at Greenewood Manor, and he knew she would love it.
“We do window visits with mom but that’s all,” Spradlin said. “When she was well enough she’d love to come out to the farm. When we were able to, we’d take our dog to visit her.”
The visit went over well, Spradlin reported.
“Mom was just thrilled. Everyone inside — there were so many smiles and waves,” he said. “It was something different to break up the unfortunate routine they’re stuck in right now with isolation.”
Rubio said the experience gave a dozen-or-so residents an opportunity for mental stimulation.
“It gives them something to do, gives them purpose. For the ones with dementia and Alzheimer’s, having pets or animals around — which we call pet therapy — causes them to be less agitated,” Rubio explained. “A lot of people were farmers or from the area; it stimulates their brain and gives them things to reminisce on, past events when they were younger. It’s interesting what the horses do for them. It’s good therapy for them.”
Statewide, outdoor visitation at nursing homes is expected to resume July 20 if certain safety standards are met.
Rubio said whenever that happens, families will be required to wear masks, wash or sanitize their hands, and follow any state protocols. Currently, families are visiting their loved ones through a designated window using a phone to talk to each other. Greenewood Manor has also implemented Zoom and Facetime calls with families.
“That’s how we’ve been keeping everyone in touch through this whole ordeal,” Rubio said. “They enjoy it, I believe, for now. They get to see family members and their families get to see them and ask questions in regards to nursing.”
Spradlin said once in-person visits are allowed, he hopes to bring the horses back to the nursing home on Dayton-Xenia Road.
“Maybe they can pet their noses or something like that,” he said. “Horses just live in the moment, that’s their main focus. They were not physically able to connect — they love connecting with people. That’s why they’re effective.”
Family Home Farm opened in 2015, providing services at no cost to military veterans and their families as well as first responders. Spradlin, an Iraq war veteran and retired first responder, said the charity allows him to help people struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, trauma, or whatever is keeping them from living a happy life.
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