Maca Castle Takes Animals To Seniors


In consultation with the community, the Macadamia Castle has recognised a need and is delivering a new service – bringing their Animal Farm to aged care facilities in the Northern Rivers.

The Macadamia Castle has always been a popular visiting spot for seniors groups. Recently when one of our keepers was talking to a seniors group, the keeper enquired about a previously keen visitor who hadn’t been seen for some time. She was told that there were many residents who had moved into higher care and were no longer able to leave the centre for long periods of time.

These people had visited the Macadamia Castle in the past however were now unable to come out for a day to enjoy the animals and have a cup of tea.

In consultation with the group the Macadamia Castle trialled a new service, delivering the animal park experience to the aged care facility, firstly at Adventist Aged Care in Alstonville. It was such a successful exercise they have decided to deliver this as a permanent service and there are already four new bookings coming up in Murwillumbah, Tweed Heads, Coraki and Lismore.

Park Manager Tony Gilding said “When we chatted to Lifestyle Coordinators at the centres, we were told when residents first come into care, the two things they missed the most were their animals and their gardens,” he said.

“We knew there was a lot of documented evidence about the benefits of animal therapy programs and we knew what was really important when people are admitted to residential aged care is that there is a connectedness to what they have done previously and to the community in general”.

Animal Assisted Therapy is a form of treatment designed to improve a person’s social, emotional or cognitive functioning and has been found to reduce anxiety, stimulate happy memories, reduce blood pressure and stimulate social interaction. Plus it’s a lot of fun and there is no age limit for enjoying getting close to animals.  

We encourage centres to invite grandchildren along to the presentation, so everyone has a fun day out. Often aged care and seniors facilities are not designed for the needs and energy of pre-schoolers, so this service provides an enjoyable day with their grandparents within their residence”, said Senior Keeper Georgia Shapter.

The core value of the Macadamia Castle’s Animal Park is conservation, education and entertainment.

Castle Keepers deliver a talk on reptiles including lizards and snakes and conservation in the local area. Residents are able to touch the animals and ask questions of the Keepers. They then provide a handling session with guinea pigs, rabbits, chicks and work with the Centre on what they think the residents will be comfortable with and enjoy most.

Leah Fraser, Lifestyle Coordinator, Alstonville Adventist Aged Care said “What a fantastic morning we had. To see so many smiles bought a tear to my eye thank you so much.”
To find out more about this program contact Lorissa Barrett at or call 02 6687 8432.

One Response

  1. Monica Wilcox

    There are so many therapuetic benefits from adorable animals.
    So glad this is happening in our area.


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