The RSPB and Bupa

Private care homes turn their gardens into havens for wildlife.

In summer 2008, the lawnmower broke down at one of the care homes in Surrey of the private healthcare company Bupa. The long grass gradually attracted a huge variety of wildlife to the home's garden.

Residents enjoyed watching the wildlife so much that the home's manager suggested Bupa should approach the RSPB about setting up a partnership to attract more wildlife to other homes.

The result is a recently launched pilot scheme of the RSPB's Homes for Wildlife initiative at 11 Bupa care homes in the Midlands and Wales. Bupa plans to extend the scheme to its remaining 293 care homes at the beginning of next year.

An RSPB spokeswoman said the initiative seemed like an obvious thing to do, because it would be beneficial for the sick or elderly to have more access to nature.

"It's a really good scheme to have at a care home, and everyone will be able to reap the benefits of enjoying the wildlife it will attract," she said.

The RSPB will advise staff and residents at the homes on how to create new habitats to attract a variety of garden species, including birds, frogs and hedgehogs.

Any care home will be able to take part in the initiative, no matter what size its garden. Work will include putting feeders up outside the windows of bed-bound residents, creating wildlife stacks with old pieces of wood and building ponds.

Oliver Thomas, director of UK care homes at Bupa, said: "This scheme can work on so many levels. It's important to us for our residents to have interesting things to do at our homes, and we are also keen on tackling environmental issues.

"It's an exciting partnership - the RSPB provides expertise and direction, and we provide the staff to make it work."

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