The feel good effect that animals have on elderly people has been on full display at a Whangārei rest home.

Radius Potter Home was one of five Whangārei rest homes visited by Auckland's Pets Assisting Therapy yesterday.

Around 20 residents gathered in the lounge to enjoy the company of some furry and feathered friends.

Radius Potter Home staff member Isobel Griffiths has a cuddle with one of the rabbits. Photo/Michael Cunningham
Radius Potter Home staff member Isobel Griffiths has a cuddle with one of the rabbits. Photo/Michael Cunningham

Jeanette Kawiti was nestled in her chair, first with a rabbit on her lap and then a small dog.

Advertisement

Kawiti has her own cat, Charli, who lives with her at the home.

"I'm passionate about animals, I just love them."

Radius Potter Home's activities coordinator Roxanne Robinson and Gwen Goodhue give the rats some attention. Photo/Michael Cunningham
Radius Potter Home's activities coordinator Roxanne Robinson and Gwen Goodhue give the rats some attention. Photo/Michael Cunningham

She thought the visit from the animals was great.

Kawiti said it was hard to explain but "something special happens when you stroke animals".

Charlotte Lane, from Pets Assisting Therapy, said she comes north once a month to visit the rest homes.

She said the animals are meant to be really calming and people often fall asleep with the animals on their laps, or talk to them.

"It brings them a bit of joy."

She said the animals can also get dementia patients talking because they are "non-judgemental".

"They feel like they can confide in them."

The birds spent time perched quietly on the shoulders of residents. Photo/Michael Cunningham
The birds spent time perched quietly on the shoulders of residents. Photo/Michael Cunningham

The animals change from month to month but can include rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, lizards, dogs, piglets, rats and lambs.

Resident Gwen Goodhue was surprised by how soft the three rats she had on her lap were.

It was the first time she'd touched rats, apart from once in a shop.

"I think it's lovely."

Roxie the dog made her way around the room looking for pats. Photo/Michael Cunningham
Roxie the dog made her way around the room looking for pats. Photo/Michael Cunningham

Fellow resident Peter Locke had pictures of the bird and cat he used to own with him.

"Some of the people get quite lonely, it's good things like this can happen."

Potter Home activities coordinator Roxanne Robinson said the animals' visit was in the name of pet therapy.

"They [the residents] love animals, they love seeing them, it makes them all happy. When they hear it's [the visit] coming up, they're like 'you've got to let us know'."

She said the residents' faces light up when they have the animals on their laps.