News & Events

All creatures great and small welcome at Liscombe House

April 19, 2017

They say a dog is man’s best friend, but at Liscombe House, OCAV’s aged care facility, there’s no playing favourite. The residents, men and women, seem to take a shine to any creature that comes through the doors including cats, dogs, chooks, chickens and even draught horses.The flow of animals through the doors at Liscombe House is all part of the pet therapy program to ensure that residents, who love animals and who may have kept them as pets when they lived independently, can stay connected to animals once they move into care.


Family members and friends are permitted to bring a pet in with them whenever they visit someone in Liscombe House and often it is a pet the resident had to leave behind. All pets, cats or dogs must be on a leash.


Mandy Williamson, Lifestyle Coordinator and Diversional Therapist, at Liscombe House in St Helena said many residents miss their animals and wait eagerly for visits from their own family’s pets or visits from ‘guest’ animals, which include Angus the border collie dog, chickens and a couple of friendly draught horses.


Catherine, a volunteer with the Lort Smith Animal Hospital’s pet therapy program, brings 10 year-old Angus into Liscombe House every fortnight. Catherine, Angus and the residents, including those in the dementia unit, love the visit. Catherine, a dog trainer, has worked for years teaching Angus some simple tricks that he shows off to the residents. Some just enjoy watching him perform his tricks and others love to pat him.


“So many people have had a dog their whole life and being with Angus each fortnight gives the residents the chance to reconnect with a part of their life that has been so important. It also gives Angus a chance to socialize and I love being there,” said Catherine, who used to work in aged care.


One day last year Catherine and Angus joined residents as they waited patiently for the hatching of a chicken as part of another ‘guest appearance’ at Liscombe House.  Each year a large incubator is set up for two weeks and residents watch with excitement as the chickens hatch from eggs. Mandy said the vigil at the incubator last year meant lunch had to be served late because residents wanted to see the hatching.


The pet therapy program is only possible because of donations to Liscombe House from a variety of sources. Each year the Greensborough National Seniors fund a family fun day in January, where proceeds from the spinning wheel fund the chicken hatching setup, which is done in the mid-year school holidays so that residents can include their grand-children in the activity


As well, draught horses visited as part of the Horse Therapy Program that Le Pine Funerals offers Aged Care facilities. A few heads turned as the Percheron horses, 16 year-old Jet and four year-old Junior visited residents.


The Percheron draught horse, which originated in France, live on an eight hectare farm in Bunyip and are primarily used to pull the Le Pine Horsedrawn Hearse and participate in the Le Pine Horse Therapy Program. The rest of their days are spent eating grass and carrots.


Mandy admits that it can sometimes be a little inconvenient allowing animals into an aged care facility, but the pleasure for residents is worth any trouble. Extra care needs to be taken with hygiene to ensure that there are no negative health impacts of the animals’ visits.


“We have to remember every day that this is home to the residents. We have to do whatever we can to ensure it feels like home to them and having their pets visit, goes some way to doing that.

Caption: Liscombe House resident Eve Allardice welcomes Angus.

Vale Eve Allardice who died on September 5 2018.

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