Companion pets bring joy

As we know by now, the impact of COVID-19 has stretched far and wide, but has been particularly hard on our community aged care centres and services.

The Rotary Club of Beenleigh, Qld, is proud to have partnered with four local nursing homes, to help provide residents and centre lifestyle coordinators with enriching activities.

Rotarians banded together to prepare specialised tubs, packed to the brim with activities such as puzzles, colouring books, pencils, magazines, books and games, to help reduce anxiety and feelings of isolation from the many lockdowns. These tubs were aptly named ‘Active in Aged Care’ tubs.

PICTURED: Rotary Club of Beenleigh member Tony Skyes shares Beau the Labrador with an excited resident.

The Active in Aged Care program continued to grow when members came across Bocchetta Plush Toys, which produces lifelike replica cats and dogs of various breeds and sizes to act as companion pets for the elderly. The washable toys are made from recycled plastics.

With the help of a District 9620 Rotary Foundation Grant, the Rotary Club of Beenleigh was able to purchase a plethora of these beautiful pets for a lifetime of cuddles, and to help provide residents comfort through memories of a pet.

The volunteers who were privileged to attend the handover of the pets to aged care homes were so moved to work closely with each facility to deliver the toys to the identified residents that will benefit from reduced stress, anxiety and loneliness. As residents selected their ‘pets’ and learnt that they were theirs to keep free of charge, as a gift from Rotary, they were so delighted and overjoyed with their choice.

PICTURED: BOTTOM: Rotary Club of Beenleigh members Tony, Gail, Janee and Lola deliver tubs of Active in Aged Care companion pets to Southern Cross Care Edens Landing.

Post-delivery, and reports continue to roll in from the involved nursing homes about the difference the pets have made to the liveliness of their facilities, with overwhelming positive feedback. Residents have been seen patting, brushing, and talking to their pets, and even sometimes hiding them in certain areas to give support staff a good laugh.

The pets have worked well to further bring together staff and residents, with everyone getting involved in playing games with the pets and addressing them as they enter resident rooms.

The impact on the residents has been marked, and has exceeded the expectations of the aged care staff and members of the Rotary Club of Beenleigh.