Pet chickens at Neville Court

Service user Liam may only have been at Neville Court for a few weeks, but he is already having a big impact.

Liam’s mother developed Huntington’s disease while he was only young, and when she passed away he moved in with his grandparents. Unfortunately, Liam’s grandfather also passed away from the same condition.

Liam’s grandparents owned a farm in the Barnsley area, and so he spent time helping his grandfather with the animals. When his grandfather’s condition became too advanced, the farm was sold and Liam began showing signs of challenging behaviour. This later led to Liam spending his late teenage years in a Young Offender’s prison, where he was also tested for Huntington’s disease. The results were positive.

When he moved into Neville Court, Liam shared stories from his childhood working on his family farm. Staff could see Liam beginning to relax as he spoke passionately about his love for animals. Just one week later, Liam and home manager Helen Carr, went out to purchase a small hut, a hen run – and three hens. Liam worked with the maintenance team to fit the hut and run together, so his new hens could live safely in the garden.Not only does Liam live with Huntington’s disease, he also suffers with anxiety and paranoia. Working together with Liam, social services, the prison and his extended family, the decision was made that Liam should move into Neville Court after leaving prison.

Helen said, “Since we bought the hens, Liam’s behaviour and confidence has totally changed. He obviously experiences difficulties as the Huntington’s disease develops – but his anxiety and paranoia has become almost non-existent. He has something he can channel his energy into – something he has experience in and is passionate about.”

Liam has also gained work experience at a local dairy farm, where he helps out with milking and other tasks once a week. Liam said, “I really enjoy the placement, and I fit in straight away. The farmer said he was really pleased with me and my understanding of the animals. I get to milk the cows, look after the grass so the cows can feed and care for the new calves. Having the placement and caring for my new hens really chills me out; it’s something I know so caring for them is easy and distracts me from everything else.”

Neville Court in Barnsley provides care to people living with Huntington’s disease, complex mental ill-health, complex dementia and other neuro-disabilities.

For more information on the home or to make a referral, please contact referrals@exemplarhc.com