Chris has hissssssss wish granted!

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Chris wanted to meet a snake, but got so much more than he bargained for!!

Resident Chris was “amazed” to meet a Boa constrictor as the FaNs Network helped make his lifelong dream come true! With help from funding from the North Essex Integrated Care Board.

Residents at a care home in Colchester were surprised to meet some unusual visitors, after one resident had his dream wish granted - to hold a Boa constrictor.

Chris Jiggings, 51, joined The Oaks Care home in Colchester last year, and they were determined to set up the scaly encounter and it certainly was just that for resident Chris, who has been a fan of snakes for as long as he can remember.

Wish granter, Louise Thain, brought in her three pet snakes: a 6ft Common boa constrictor, a 3ft Sunglow dwarf boa constrictor and a 4ft Royal python, also known as a Ball python. The reptiles have previously met with Cub, Scout and Guide groups and she was delighted to introduce them to The Oaks’ residents.

Amongst those who enjoyed meeting the snakes in her room was nursing resident Anne Satchell, 72.

“I had such a surprise; I couldn’t believe it!” she says. “I thought it was a pretend snake, but it was a real one. I’ve never touched a snake in my life, but today I did.”

The reptiles were so popular with the residents, Louise has arranged to bring them back for regular monthly visits.

Margaret says, “It’s not every day you’ll find a Boa constrictor in a care home, but we really enjoyed hosting our visitors and we can’t wait for them to come back!”

“Me and my friends used to look for grass snakes when I was younger. That’s how it all started,” he explains, “and I’ve been interested in them ever since.”

“It was incredible to hold one, especially the 6ft Boa constrictor. He was strong, but manageable. He seemed to like me and take to me straight away.”

Chris, Care home resident
Chris and snake
Chris has his wish granted!

“It was a lovely experience,” she says, “to meet the residents and to see the absolute delight on their faces when they were touching or holding the snakes.”

Louise Thain, Reptile mum and wish granter!

Creating this wish was challenging for the home’s wellbeing co-ordinator, Margaret Brodie. She eventually reached out to The FaNs Network for assistance and they helped her connect with Louise. “I wasn’t able to find anyone to bring snakes in for a long time,” she explains, “so it was a bit tricky. But we always do what we can to make our residents’ wishes come true and Chris was so chuffed FaNs set this up for him.

“We get to know our residents as individuals, and we find out what they really want. We love to make them feel valued and special, because they are all special.

“The look on his face when he realised what was happening was pure amazement, it was really heart-warming. The visit was a huge success and Chris was certainly in his element.”

The visit proved inspirational for Chris, who moved into the home for support with his disability but hopes to move into a flat of his own in the future.

“I’d love to get a snake one day”, he says. “Not a Boa like today but a smallish one that wouldn’t be able to escape too far or too quickly. I wouldn’t be able to look after a dog, but I would be able to manage looking after a snake.”

Our activities are about inspiring our residents and helping them to create new memories and enjoy new experiences. This was an especially lovely wish because it was inclusive for all our residents and the snakes could go to the rooms of those who couldn’t meet with them in our home’s communal lounge.

As a form of pet therapy - believe it or not - the snakes were very calming! They were quite relaxing because they weren’t flustered or stressed, and a lot of our residents found them very soothing.

No words can describe the looks and comments from everyone when the snakes arrived, but there wasn’t one person who didn’t enjoy the visit.

Kylie Vickery, Manager of The Oaks