By Heather Ballantyne, recreation therapist
When those of us in the recreation therapy department accepted our jobs at Life Care Center of Stonegate, Colorado, we were ready to meet the needs of our residents, but we never imagined we would be raising ducklings!
In May 2015, 11 baby ducks hatched in one of our courtyards. Residents joined us in researching what to feed them, and the ducklings were provided with daily doses of fresh vegetables and dry dog food (which ended up being their favorite food). We put small water dishes out for the ducks to drink from and sit in.
The residents were quickly enamored with their flock of ducklings. They watched them from the window several times a day. Watching the ducks became the best activity we could have come up with.
Our residents were very concerned with the ducks’ welfare. One resident bought a giant bag of duck food so they would have proper nutrition, and another purchased a kiddie pool for them to swim in. Associates, residents and family members all stopped in regularly to check on our little duck family.
“I enjoyed watching them every day,” said one resident. “After breakfast, the first thing I did was go into the activity room to watch the ducks.”
One of our other residents added, “I enjoyed seeing them learn to swim for the first time on a Sunday morning in the kiddie pool.”
The ducks grew fast, and we were grateful for the opportunity to watch them grow up. We were able to watch them learn to swim, grow feathers and learn to fly. As they got older, the ducks ate all the plants in the courtyard.
Months later, at the end of July, the ducks flew away… not all at once, but a few at a time. Momma duck stayed until the last baby flew away.
The residents still talk about their ducks and can’t wait for next spring, to see how many of them come back to have their babies here.