News & Events

Ginger is the cat star of Liscombe House

October 8, 2021

Ginger does not eat anything and is very good at cuddling, purring and even better at sleeping. She is an ideal companion, as many Liscombe House residents will tell you.

The orange tabby was introduced to the aged care home last year during one of the lockdowns when volunteers from the Lort Smith Animal Hospital and the Cat Protection Society were unable to bring their animals in.

Ginger is a fluffy and cuddly robotic pet, one of many developed by Dementia Australia, to help people living with dementia relax and relive happy memories.

She looks, acts, feels and sounds like a real cat but is in fact powered by batteries and electronic sensors.

Mandy Williamson, leader of Liscombe House’s Lifestyle team, said: “Her fur feels real. When you touch her behind the head or under her chin, she responds by purring. The more you cuddle her, the more likely she will roll on her back for a belly rub.”

But Ginger is more than just a cuddle, as Mandy attests.

“We have seen many residents, whether they are diagnosed with dementia or not, cuddle with Ginger and talking quietly with her – just as we would with our living pets,” Mandy said.

“What they are tapping into is their emotional memory of happy times” she said.

Mandy and her team are now welcoming the ‘living’ cats and dogs back into Liscombe House. But there will always be a place for Ginger.

“We always want our residents to interact with ‘real’ animals rather than robotic toys, but that’s not always possible,” Mandy said.

“Having Ginger is just one of the many ways in which we support our residents through pet therapy. And she has been a winner ever since she first arrived.”

 

Sanctuary is how artist Gillian Coates describes her home at Currie Park, OCAV’s village in Euroa. “When I go to Melbourne and I am heading back to Euroa, I can’t wait to get home to the peacefulness of this place. It is like a sanctuary for me."

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