A new resident rabbit has hopped its way into Bethanie Kingsley aged care home, bringing joy and laughter to all the residents.
The new resident rabbit, named Willow, was donated by Bethanie Chaplain Annelize Jensen, who wanted to surprise the residents over Christmas, particularly one resident who was struggling to come out of her bedroom, but now comes leaves her bedroom all the time.
Ms Jensen said Willow is much-loved and everybody immediately took responsibility of him, with one resident even making a bed for him.
“We have a chart next to Willow which shows us whether he has been walked or fed,” she said.
“Everyone wants to be around him and walk him – they even put him on wheelchairs and have him sleep in residents’ lap.”
Ms Jensen said there were many benefits to having a pet in an aged care home, including providing purpose and happiness for the residents who can often feel sad when their friends pass away.
“Residents have purpose and meaning to their days which improves quality of life,” she said.
“Having a pet also decreases feelings of loneliness and isolation because it encourages social interaction – when someone is feeling down, they walk the bunny.”
Ms Jensen, who breeds Mini Lop rabbits, trained Willow prior to bringing him to his new home.
“I got the bunny trained, so he’s now comfortable with using a harness and lead,” she said.
Resident Judith Paul, who has been at Bethanie Kingsley for two years, said she used to struggle leaving her bedroom and was antisocial until Willow came along.
“I used to spend all day in my room, hardly ever speaking to residents and only came out of my room during lunchtime,” she said.
“I now go out and visit Willow multiple times a day and also go to the kitchen to ask for vegetables to make sure Willow is fed.”