Robo pets provide residents company
GROWING up, Uwe Kreuzer loved having pets and even had a cat of his own.
Now living in an aged care facility, Mr Kreuzer once again gets to enjoy the company of a cat but this time, without the expensive vet bills.
Mr Kreuzer and his wife, Elizabeth are two of five residents at TriCare Point Vernon Aged Care Residence who have been given their very own robotic pet as part of the Companion Pet Program.
"They make me happy because they're happy," Mr Kreuzer said.
"I think it's better than having a (real) dog."
One robotic dog named Fergus and three robotic cats named Ginger, Coco and Molly, came from a company in the US and now live with residents who either suffer from dementia or require comfort.
Although the pets brought enjoyment to everyone at TriCare, facility manager Lisa Boase said it was particularly beneficial to dementia patients.
She said the sensory experience of engaging with the pets helped residents to remember previous experiences or memories.
The pets respond to touch and sound through movement, purrs and a bark or meow. Fergus even has his own heart beat.
"Through this process, the residents reminisce because some of them would have had pets of their own," she said.
"It also creates conversation between the residents and the more they talk to one another, the clearer their heads will become.
"The animals are really great if the residents are feeling distressed or upset because we find it soothes them."