BRINGING JOY: Keepers will provide a range of new animal experiences, including reptile talks, and a handling session with guinea pigs, rabbits and chicks.
BRINGING JOY: Keepers will provide a range of new animal experiences, including reptile talks, and a handling session with guinea pigs, rabbits and chicks.

Helping seniors smile

WHO doesn't love cute and cuddly animals or learning about our native wildlife?

In consultation with the community, the Macadamia Castle is delivering a new service by bringing their animal farm to aged care facilities in the Northern Rivers.

Macadamia Castle's Lorissa Barrett said the attraction had always been a popular visiting spot for seniors groups.

"Recently when one of our keepers was talking to a seniors group, the keeper inquired about a previously keen visitor who hadn't been seen for some time,” she said.

"She was told that there were many residents who had moved into higher care and were no longer able to leave the centre for long periods of time.”

As they grew older, many people who previously enjoyed visits to the Macadamia Castle in the past were now unable to come out for a day to enjoy the animals and have a cup of tea.

In consultation with the seniors, the Macadamia Castle trialled a new service, delivering the animal park experience to the aged care facility.

The trial run was held at Adventist Aged Care in Alstonville, where it was a roaring success.

"What a fantastic morning we had,” lifestyle co-ordinator Leah Fraser said.

"To see so many smiles brought a tear to my eye.”

Following that success, Macadamia Castle management decided to make it a permanent serviceand there are already four new bookings coming up in Murwillumbah, Tweed Heads, Coraki and Lismore.

"When we chatted to lifestyle co-ordinators at the centres, we were told when residents first come into care the two things they missed the most were their animals and their gardens,” park manager Tony Gilding said.

"We knew there was a lot of documented evidence about the benefits of animal therapy programs and we knew what was really important when people were admitted to residential aged care was that there was a connectedness to what they had done previously and to the community in general.”

Senior keeper Georgia Shapter said the Macadamia Castle encouraged centres to"invite grandchildren along to the presentation, soeveryone has a fun day out”.

"Often aged care and seniors facilities are not designed for the needs and energy of preschoolers, so this service provides an enjoyable day with their grandparents within their residence,” she said.

As part of the experience, keepers deliver a talk on reptiles, including lizards and snakes, and conservation in the local area.

Residents are able to touch the animals and ask keepers questions.

They then provide a handling session with guinea pigs, rabbits, chicks and work with the aged care centre on what they think the residents will be comfortable with and enjoy most.

To find out more about this program email Lorissa Barrett at events@ macadamiacastle.com.au or phone 6687 8432.


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