Animal Magic- animals in care settings and children in animal settings...

The Care Inspectorate have recently published the document 'Animal Magic. The benefits of being around and caring for animals across care settings'. The document highlights:

“...the ways many people get the most out of life by being around or caring for animals and pets... Animal Magic gives examples of animals enhancing the quality of life of children and adults. People experiencing care have told us that being around animals helps them relax, provides companionship, enhances their relationships, gives them a positive focus to their lives, encourages them to be active and makes them feel happier... Contact with animals can also enhance relationships with their families, their friends and with care professionals.” (p 4)

The benefit to children and additional support needs is also highlighted:

“It can be easier to build up a relationship with an animal than a person. There is warmth, affection and trust.” (p 5)

The document provides examples of care settings where children and adults being cared for come into close contact with animals, including: trainee guide dogs in a nursery; a childminder who is based on a farm; and, inter-generational work between a nursery and adult care home where animals bring the generations together.

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Although there is no out of school care example in the document, back in June SOSCN visited a recently opened out of school care service in Aberdeen which is based within a petting zoo and park. Yes, you heard correctly: a petting zoo and park!

Hazelhead Trailblazerz

Hazelhead Trailblazerz is located in Hazelhead Park in Aberdeen, run by Community Link Childcare (CliCC), and has only been open since May this year. CliCC is a local charity which run several out of school care and holiday services across the city. The park and petting zoo are owned and managed by Aberdeen City Council who have enthusiastically supported the development and opening of the service.

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The out of school care has access to toilets and indoor space at the petting zoo and aquarium- the education room (which becomes the out of school care room) looks onto the meerkats and giant tortoise enclosure. Some exotic pets for the service!

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Outside the children are able to access the green space and play equipment. The plan is that for most of the time children will be based outdoors- this was easy during the great summer weather but may prove a bit more challenging in the dark winter nights. However, there are always the animals to care for...

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We watch with interest to see how the service develops and we shall look at ways of spreading this model of outdoor delivery in other urban settings across Scotland.

'Animal Magic':
Community Link Childcare
last updated: 23/08/2018