Bupa Enfield finds the purrrfect way to bring residents joy
“Time spent with cats is never wasted,” Sigmund Freud once said. For Bupa Enfield residents, this couldn’t be more true, as spending time with furry friends is bringing happiness to cat-lovers who miss having pets of their own. For residents who have just moved into the South Australian aged care home, giving up their beloved pets is one of the most significant changes in their lives. Bupa Enfield’s lifestyle coordinator Raj noticed the effect this was having on some residents. “One resident isolated herself when she had to give up her cat for adoption. It completely devastated her,” Raj said. “She stopped talking to her family and didn’t want to interact with anyone but we didn’t know why.” “Then one day, she started crying and told me it was because she had to give up her cat. She was heartbroken.”
Her experience prompted Raj to find a way to bring cats into the home for visits. However, while Bupa Enfield organises regular dog therapy, it has proven more difficult for cats.
So, Raj decided if the cats couldn’t visit them, they would visit the cats.
“One of our volunteers told us how they have lots of cat cafes in Japan. So I started looking for cat cafes nearby that we could visit.”
He found Sassy’s Cat Cafe, where visitors can enjoy drinks and treats while playing with the resident cats. After checking the café had accessible toilets and wheelchair access, he knew it would be perfect for the cat-loving residents.
Raj gathered a small group of residents for the trip, focusing on those he knew had previously had cats. They enjoyed afternoon tea while cuddling and playing with the gorgeous kitties.
“They absolutely loved it,” Raj said. “One resident, Dorothy, found a cat in the cafe who looked just like her cat Misty. She was thrilled.”
The visit allowed residents to socialise with others in a similar situation as they shared stories about the pets in their lives.
For resident Gladys, it was her first bus trip since moving into Bupa Enfield.
“This is the best day of my life; can’t believe I’m surrounded by all these cute cats,” she said.
Another resident, Myra, commented, “I’m so happy, wish I could take a cat home”.
Raj said the visit was a huge success, especially for the resident who sparked the idea.
“It changed everything for her. She found a lot of joy that day and has now started coming along to activities.”
The residents have since enjoyed more visits to the cat cafe. On International Cat Day in August, they visited the MeowMe cat cafe in Parkside followed by an afternoon of cat-themed craft activities.
“Showing love and affection to an animal is an important need people have,” Raj said.
“We’ve organised for farm animals and miniature ponies to visit. We also have regular visits from therapy dogs, and I’ve even brought in my dog a few times!
“For people who have grown up with animals, these visits bring good memories and give them a true sense of home. The benefits are immense.”