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Arcare uses puppy power to bring joy to senior residents

They say laughter is the best medicine, but what about the power of a cute puppy?

After weekly visits from Pippi, a five-month-old cocker spaniel, the aged care residents at Arcare Seven Hills have experienced first-hand the joy and laughter a dog can bring.

Brought in by her owner, Arcare Seven Hills Enrolled Nurse Elysse Hunter, Pippi (lead image) has quickly become an honorary resident in Jupiter, the Dementia community at Arcare Seven Hills, and even has her very own special spot reserved in the lounge!

“I started bringing Pippi in after I first got her in February, as I thought all of the residents would enjoy seeing and interacting with her,” Elysse says.

Little did Elysse know that Pippi’s presence would play a crucial role in keeping residents socially connected, particularly during the height of the pandemic, when volunteers, families and friends were not always able to visit.

“Some of the benefits we have seen in our residents has been reduced feelings of anxiety and agitation when Pippi is around,” Elysse adds. 

“We also find that Pippi can be a driver for engaging conversation, with some of the residents actually recalling personal accounts of their own pets, bringing back many fond memories for residents.”

When the residents see that Pippi is here to play, they eagerly finish up what they are doing to come over for pats and cuddles! Among those smitten with Pippi is Arcare resident, May Denronden (79yo), who lived with dogs all her life.

Seven Hills Residence Manager, Bhisan 'Bish' Shrestha also brings in his new puppy Alfie, a three-and-a-half-month-old Cocker Spaniel.

Alfie is still learning to navigate the world and socialise with other people and dogs. To help him get accustomed to his surroundings, General Services Manager, Alysha Ansell brings Alfie around in her trolley a sight which draws many ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from residents and team members.

“Due to COVID, we haven’t been able to bring volunteer dogs in, so this is a small initiative to keep pet company going. Our residents love pets and their visits bring so much happiness and smiles to their daily life,” says Bish. “I hope to make Alfie a regular addition to the team at Arcare Seven Hills soon.”

With pet visits proven to be beneficial to seniors to support social connectivity, facilitated pet visits/outings and ‘bring your dog to work’ initiatives are employed regularly by Arcare residences and team members across its 42+ aged care residences in NSW, VIC and QLD. Not just dogs but cats, birds, rabbits, chickens and even horses (on occasion) are used at various residences.

Prior to COVID-19, Arcare Civic Manor (VIC) was a part of a chicken hatching program in which the residents cared for the eggs through their incubations period and upon hatching.

Arcare Waterview (VIC) also has its own birds and a bunny which live in the residences full-time and are cared for by the residents and team members.

Arcare also hosts regulated Pet Therapy sessions with trained pets and professionals. 

However, since COVID-19, Arcare has seen a drastic drop in the number of volunteers nationwide, meaning less opportunities for the residents to engage with the wider community and stay socially connected.

As the country moves to a new ‘covid-normal’, Arcare is hoping to see new faces (and paws) join their volunteer program to facilitate pet visits once volunteers are approved to return to physical visits.

For more information or to register your interest as a volunteer, visit

MEDIA RELEASE, 9th April 2021

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