Tiny brings big smiles at Bolton Clarke Cabrini

Tiny brings big smiles at Bolton Clarke Cabrini

Wellbeing initiatives including a dressing table filled with scarves and costume jewellery, a shoe polishing table and even a robotic dog are bringing smiles to the faces of Bolton Clarke’s Cabrini aged care residents at Westmead, NSW.

Bolton Clarke (formerly RSL Care + RDNS), one of Australia’s most experienced not-for-profit providers of independent living services, acquired Cabrini in December, and behavioural support specialist Elisabeth Elder worked with staff and residents throughout January to implement the changes, which have delighted residents and visitors.

A toy dog has brought new joy for resident Gertie, who grew up in Germany during World War II and was agitated and distressed for much of the time.


Elisabeth worked with staff and Gertie’s daughter to find a solution that would improve her wellbeing.

“Gertie’s daughter said she just wanted to see her Mum smile,” Elisabeth said.

“Staff noted Gertie responded well to pet therapy, so they arranged to introduce a FurReal Friends dog.

“Gertie named the dog Tiny, after a pet she once had, and her daughter bought a collar while staff arranged a bed, bowl and brush. Tiny has become Gertie’s constant companion, and best of all she is smiling much more!

“Her daughter says she’s a ‘new woman’!”

In the memory support unit, a resident whose first language is Italian and who no longer speaks English was distressed for much of the time.

A set of headphones delivering Italian music have her clapping in time, and she is also joining in activities including flower arranging.

For another resident who rarely moved from her chair, a shoe polishing station gave her new purpose as she cleaned shoes and returned them to their owner.

Residents also have an office desk to work at, a dressing table with seat where many like to spend time, an area to fold clothes, a bookcase with sensory items, a cot with a sleeping baby doll and a wedding dress, which has become a popular conversation starter.

“Making the environmental changes has made a real difference,” Elisabeth said.

“Residents who previously didn’t speak are now interacting, and others who were often agitated are engaged in new ways. Staff say the atmosphere is much calmer, and families are also excited and say visits are more relaxed.”

Elisabeth said the enthusiasm of staff to implement the individual wellbeing initiatives was key to the project’s success.

Bolton Clarke Cabrini

Get articles like this direct to your inbox

You may be interested in

Westhaven residents get a buzz out of native bees