Pets bring joy and companionship to homes, and more and more, animals are assisting people in settings such as schools, offices, hospitals, and Residential Aged Care homes.
Research has found contact with animals provides physical and psychological health benefits, which can ultimately enhance people's quality of life, elevating mood and decreasing loneliness.
Hatching chickens has been proving beneficial at some of our Residential Care homes. At Cootamundra, residents have been putting eggs into the incubator and remembering to turn them twice a day.
"On the 20th day, new life started to appear with cracks and sounds coming from the eggs," Cootamundra's Leisure and Lifestyle Coordinator Lorraine said. "In total, we have 13 little new chicks making their way into the world."
Similarly, in Deniliquin, residents at Orana Residential Care have been busy and fascinated by hatching Pekin bantam and Silkie bantam breeds. The eggs were donated by a local farmer, Anthony and his family. Residents like to check on the chickens during the day, where they chat with them, hold them and examine their unique patterns. A new pen was specially built for the 17 chickens.
"The activity was so successful, we now have duck eggs incubating," said Meg, Orana's Leisure and Lifestyle Officer.
Residents at Deniliquin also received a special visit from Hephner the alpaca who has become a bit of a celebrity hitting the road to visit communities, including a trip from Goulburn to the Gold Coast raising money for mental health.
Over at our Mawson Court Residential Care home in Caves Beach, residents enjoyed a petting zoo in the recently renovated ground floor garden. Residents fed, cuddled and observed over 20 animals, including goats, lambs, pigs, chickens, and ducks. The opportunity brought back memories of their childhood or years when some owned and managed farms.
Residents at St Catherine's Residential Care in Grafton enjoy visits from staff members' pets. Every Monday, they receive a visit from Maggie, the Golden Retriever cross Border Collie puppy and walk her around the veggie patch. They were also thrilled to receive a visit from baby goat, Olivia, who provided some much-loved cuddle time.
People can feel more energised, inspired and happy as pets offer friendship and unconditional love. Animals can also be soothing and boost the social behaviour of people with dementia. Looking after animals requires physical activity, which can help residents with their own goals, such as improving motor skills and mobility, lowering high blood pressure, socialising, and interpersonal skills and elevating their sense of purpose.
Because of these many benefits, animal-assisted therapy continues to be one of the many engaging activities our Leisure & Lifestyle teams facilitate in our homes.