When Centers Health Care started talking about the changes they were making at the former Delaware Nursing Home, people thought about new rooms, and improved facilities. And all that’s happening. But no one thought they would turn Buffalo Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing into a ranch! On Sunday, June 13, a pair of Personal Ponies strolled into the lobby of Buffalo Center and judging by the reaction of the residents they were a very big hit.
Lilly and Davey are UK Shetland ponies that are part of the Personal Ponies organization, a nation-wide organization that provides ponies to groups helping people with special needs. They have worked with children, senior citizens, veterans and a host of others with special needs and they never fail to succeed in brightening everyone’s day. Incorporating “pony therapy” into the Centers Health Care family was the brainchild of CEO Kenny Rozenberg. “I grew up in Brooklyn and what I know about horses wouldn’t fill a thimble” he jokes. “But I know a lot about creating an environment where people receiving skilled nursing care and various physical therapies can thrive. And that has to include a lot of stimulation, recreational pursuits, and hopefully some very positive exposure to brand new experiences. So, we went and got ponies”.
“Everyone was thrilled when Lilly and Davey started touring our facility. I’m not even sure who was more excited, the residents or the staff” said Dave Denny, administrator of Buffalo Center and wrangler for a day. “For our residents, this was more than just another interactive experience arranged by the Centers Health Care recreation team. This was something very special.”
Residents were repeatedly surprised as they learned more and more about their three-foot tall visitors. For starters, Lilly (9) and Davey (5) are youngsters despite being so well trained and fully accustomed to working indoors at medical facilities, schools, and public buildings. “These horses can easily live well into their 30s” said Lisa Smith who trains Personal Ponies in the Buffalo area. “All of our horses are UK Shetlands, which have a very friendly, calm demeanor and they truly enjoy their encounters with people.”
When the Buffalo Center round-up was over, Lilly and Davey went to Buffalo Centers’ sister facility nearby, Waterfront Center for Rehabilitation and Health Care where administrator Colin Hart, 160 excited residents, and an equally excited group of employees eagerly awaited their visit. Said Rozenberg, “I’m thrilled that this went the way I had hoped, and we’re not only going to be bringing our new friends back here every month, we’re going to expand this effort to as many facilities as these horses can comfortably visit.”
If you would like to meet Davey and Lilly in person, contact either Buffalo Center or Waterfront Center for a list of dates when Personal Ponies will be on hand. Friends and families are always welcome at Centers Health Care.