Fish help at dementia centre in Bury St Edmunds

Mayor of St Edmundsbury Cllr Patrick Chung with Belinda Johnston, of Our Special Friends, and Lynn Bennington, senior day care assistant
Mayor of St Edmundsbury Cllr Patrick Chung with Belinda Johnston, of Our Special Friends, and Lynn Bennington, senior day care assistant
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A fish has found a happy new home - in a place where it could help older people in Bury St Edmunds living with dementia.

Vet Belinda Johnston, of Higham, runs local charity Our Special Friends, which aims to enhance human wellbeing through animal companionship.

She heard of a couple from her village who were relocating to the USA and needed to find a new home for their fish, a guppy, and their tank.

So, aware of the scientific evidence that aquaria can be beneficial to people with dementia, she worked with Age UK Suffolk to install them at the Links Day Centre, in Saxon House, on Moreton Hall.

Links, one of two day care centres for older people at Saxon House, is specifically aimed at people living with dementia.

Belinda said: “Scientific studies have shown that watching fish tank can have a calming effect on people living with dementia, reducing anxiety and also helping to increase their nutritional intake.

“It is a simple way of making a very positive impact on their lives so we are delighted to see the fish tank in pride of place and clearly being enjoyed by Link’s guests.”

She also appealed on the charity’s Facebook page for new fish and a woman from Stowmarket, whose mother has dementia, offered to donate some guppies, which are now also enjoying life in the tank.