A new type of therapy animal is bringing joy to the residents of Carinity Kepnock Grove, with robotic pets becoming a common sight within the community.
Residents have access to companion pets, which are life-like therapeutic toys that have realistic fur and sound and move like real animals.
The electronic cat and dog – named ‘Kitty’ and ‘Jojo’ by residents – respond to hugging and petting.
Users can even feel the vibration of a cat purring and the ‘heartbeat’ of a dog.
Carinity Kepnock Grove Residential Manager, Gabriel Moyo, said the technology was bringing much joy to residents.
She said research had shown that the devices have physical and psychological benefits for older seniors, including those living with dementia.
“Just like the use of real-life pets for animal-assisted therapy at Carinity aged care sites, the robotic companion cats and dogs offer a comforting presence for residents,” Gabriel said.
“Studies have shown that these companion pets can enhance the wellbeing of older people.
“The robotic animals can help to improve people’s moods, communication, interaction with others, and can be a comforting presence.
“Some residents living with dementia who are unresponsive to other therapies may brighten up, pat and talk to the companion pet.
“Other users will reminiscence about the animals they owned in their younger years, prompting them to share their own pet stories and happy memories.”
Residents living in all 12 of Carinity’s aged care communities across Queensland have access to the companion pets.