A ‘neigh’bourly visit to cheer up the elderly at Bupa Morphettville

As horses galloped down the track at Flemington Racecourse in a bid to win the Melbourne Cup, Delho the Shetland pony volunteered his time at the Bupa Aged Care home in Morphettville.

Leah Conlon from the Morphettville Racecourse said volunteering their pony’s time has been a rewarding experience for all involved.

"We wanted to share the experience of a pony with people who are in a situation where they may not have the opportunity to interact with pets or exotic animals," Ms Conlon said.

“My dad, Ramon McGillick is 77 and without Delho, he’d be lost. He had a heart attack 12 months ago and the pony keeps him active so it is nice for him to share that enjoyment with other elderly people,” she said.

"We really just wanted to brighten people's days and bring a taste of the Melbourne Cup to Adelaide,” she said.

Pet therapy has a history of success at the home, particularly for those with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. It is for this reason that Bupa Morphetvilles’s General Manager Robyn Caruso said some of the residents were able to really connect with the pony.


A number of our residents used to ride to school on horses, so seeing them have that interaction with a mini horse that reminds them of that time has been a really great trip down memory lane.
Bupa Morphetvilles’s General Manager Robyn Caruso

She said that although this is the first visit from Delho, it won’t be the last as residents relished the joy of dressing up and excitement of interacting with a real pony.

“The residents all got together on our patio, sipped on champagne and enjoyed live music while the pony trotted around and did his thing,” Mrs Caruso said.

The residents donned their best outfits including jockey hats and fascinators as part of the annual Cup Day celebrations, with staff also joining in on the fun.

"Both residents and staff left with a full stomach and a smile. There isn’t much more you can ask for really, unless you’re asking for a visit from a pony and that’s exactly what we had,” said Jenny Barker, the home’s lifestyle officer.

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