Pets encourage residents to socialise at Orana Aged Care

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‘It’s the small things that make a difference at Orana Aged Care and Retirement Living in Kingaroy, QLD, with residents enjoying life through music, creative arts, delicious food and the company of resident and visiting therapy pets.’

Run by Lutheran Services in Queensland, Orana Aged Care offers a country lifestyle and personalised aged care services, including dementia, palliative and respite care.

“We recognise pets provide the most amazing companionship for people. So, if the animal is suitable, they can stay with their owners when they move into aged care and really smooth over that transition,” says Kym Zischke, Service Manager Orana Aged Care & Retirement Living.

“At the moment we do not have any pets living permanently in residential care, but we have both cats and dogs living with residents in our retirement village.”

Orana Aged Care residents also enjoy visits from four legged guests, such as Pippa, a delightful 7-month-old Schmoodle who belongs to a staff member and is a “sucker for cuddles,” laughs Ms Zischke.

“There is regular contact with Pippa at all activities and Pippa also makes one-on-one visits. Pippa likes to ride around on the walkers!” she adds.

“Although kangaroo joeys are not pets, we sometimes have a visit from a wildlife carer. Residents absolutely love to bottle feed the joeys who are in bag-pouches. That brings them so much joy.”

Ms Zischke says pets certainly have a positive impact on residents and staff.

“When Pippa visits, we see residents really socialise. Pippa sort of encourages them to come and spend time with others and participate in activities. She also has a very soothing effect on their mental health,” she says.

“Staff have benefited also from cuddles to help them through challenging days at work and other residents just love spending time with her.  One resident takes her for a walk on his wheelie walker and enjoys the interaction immensely.”

Ms Zischke believes it beneficial for Orana Aged Care residents to continue having interactions with animals of all types and sizes in their later years.

As for pets living with their owners in aged care facilities, she says, “Each situation needs to be visited individually as there are definite benefits, but we need to ensure residents are able to care for their pet. At Orana Aged Care, we take it on a case-by-case basis.”

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