AN OPEN-DOOR policy at a Queensland nursing home is bringing comfort and joy to residents and their brood of feathered friends.
The eight chickens were hatched under the watchful care of residents at Lutheran Services' Immanuel Gardens aged care community in Buderim on the Sunshine Coast.
Now they are so much a part of daily life, the cheeky chooks use cat flaps to come in and out of residents' homes and are even known to snuggle up on their couches and have afternoon tea.
The happy hens are daily visitors to resident Judith O'Byrne's villa and she said she enjoys it when they pop in and are a source of calm.
"They bring us all joy, particularly when we feed them at afternoon tea time," she said.
Lutheran Services' newly-appointed chief executive Nick Ryan met the adventurous birds and the aged care residents recently on a visit to the Buderim facility.
"The invitation was an opportunity to meet the residents of the community, seeing their homes and witnessing the first-hand benefits of programs such as the chicken therapy initiative," said Mr Ryan.
"Chickens give more than eggs - they're a source of enjoyment for residents and act as a conversation starter, which is a great way to combat loneliness," he added.
"Residents at Lutheran Services Immanuel Gardens actually watched the chickens hatch when the program started a few months ago, and now they're inseparable.
"The chickens at Immanuel Gardens certainly have it good! They love to be fed by the residents, and tend to follow around their favourites looking for food and some company"
He added the benefits of pets in aged care cannot be overstated. "At all of our sites, there are residents' pets such as dogs, cats and birds."