What is RSL Life Care? Find out

At ten to five in the afternoon, the bed alarm goes off. Betty (not her real name) is calling for assistance. She’s had a big day for anyone, let alone an elderly woman in her nineties, having had a visit to the local hospital for day-surgery to remove some skin cancers, an operation which also involved skin grafts. Her head and arms are bandaged and she is sore. After returning home from the hospital she was tucked into bed for a well-earned rest, but now she wants to get up. For Betty, home is RSL LifeCare’s Kokoda Care Home, on the grounds of its Sydney facility in Narrabeen.

5pm in a care home is “peak hour”. Meals are being prepared, tray service is underway, dining room service is in full swing and the staff is busy assisting residents into the dining room for dinner. The hallways are full of residents, walking aids, wheelchairs, hustle and bustle.

Cathy Walker, Kokoda’s Care Manager, answers Betty’s call. She helps Betty visit the bathroom, pops her in a wheelchair and takes her into the dining area for close observation and dinner. Betty is restless and uncomfortable, so Cathy reaches for PARO, a revolutionary robotic seal, and places PARO on Betty’s lap. What happens next is quite remarkable. Her restlessness subsides as Betty engages with this soft, gentle, intelligent “carebot”. It turns its head to look at her as she speaks and she giggles in surprise. PARO’s eyes close when Betty strokes his back. Her arms cradle him and he gently moves his limbs to signal his enjoyment. Betty momentarily forgets about her hard day, her bandaged head and arms, as she strokes PARO, chatting and cooing to him in a completely calm voice, now oblivious to the busyness around her.

This ability to divert residents’ attention off the “here and now” – especially when the here and now includes discomfort, confusion or upset – is the gift that PARO gives within an aged-care setting. As Cathy Walker explains, “PARO is used as an adjunct to good nursing, not as a replacement to good nursing. In Betty’s case, she needed something to take her mind off her present situation. When Betty got up from her nap,  she came with us to the general dining area so she didn’t feel alone and so we could keep a close eye on her. But she was still flustered and the environment was very busy. As soon as we gave her PARO to cuddle, however, she forgot about everything going on around her. She was so delighted with this furry little creature that turned its head to look at her with its enormous dark eyes as she spoke and chortled to it. It was an absolute delight to see.”

PARO the Therapeutic Robot is the brainchild of AIST, a Japanese automation pioneer company. The research, development, technology, design and construction cost $15 million and took ten years to fully develop. Currently, PARO is in its 8th generation of design and is now being use to assist residents, hospital patients and their nursing staff all over the world.

RSL LifeCare owns two PARO Seals, which are shared across 6 care homes. The technology is incredible – far beyond any battery-powered toy that may spring to mind. PARO can see, hear, balance, register touch and recognise its own name. He/she looks at you when spoken to or approached and actively makes eye contact, searching for your face. In a social setting, PARO joins in the conversation, adding his or her pup sounds to the audience. PARO loves cuddles and responds to gentle strokes by going to sleep. With sensors all over its body and the ability to “learn” names, faces and voices, PARO’s artificial intelligence is quite spellbinding. RSL LifeCare’s own trial of PARO showed decreased levels of agitation and stress, improved relaxation and socialisation between residents and staff, and between residents themselves.

Erris Mullins, Manager of Kokoda Care Home, identifies certain times when PARO is of particular help. “From 4-7pm PARO is of great therapeutic assistance. Not only is it a busy time of day for staff, when otherwise they might have the time to sit one-on-one with residents, but for residents it can be a confusing and exhausting time of the day. The Sundowner Syndrome can be a factor at the end of the day, with residents experiencing a mental overload as a result of the accumulation of all that has taken place in the day; they can be simply fatigued and therefore irritable and hormones sometimes fluctuate at the end of the day. As a result, in the afternoons you can get those behaviours of concern, such as residents attempting to stand unassisted, which can be dangerous. To be able to provide our residents with a safe, enjoyable experience at this time of day is a wonderful thing.”

While sceptics may question the use of a “carebot” in nursing practice, Cathy is quick to defend PARO. “For our cognitively intact residents, PARO is a wonder of new technology. For our residents with differing levels of dementia, PARO is whatever they want PARO to be. Part of the reason PARO is a seal is because humans rarely have previous real-life experience with seal pups (as opposed to dogs and cats), so they can project whatever they like onto it such as whether it’s a boy or a girl. For some residents with dementia, PARO is clearly understood and appreciated as a carebot, for others PARO is a simple pleasure to enjoy and experience in the moment.”

PARO-2-2-1 | RSL LifeCare - provide care and service to war veterans, retirement villages and accommodation, aged care services and assisted living
PARO-4 | RSL LifeCare - provide care and service to war veterans, retirement villages and accommodation, aged care services and assisted living

Especially technology with such a delightful outcome.

“We all benefit from technology in our lives – we have cars that reverse for us, smartphones in our pockets and GPS so we don’t get lost – why shouldn’t our elders benefit from technology too?”

Latest News

array(2) { [0]=> int(175) [1]=> int(41) }
Alan Buxton

Meet Alan Buxton – RSL LifeCare resident and World War II veteran

103-year-old RSL LifeCare resident Alan Buxton has led a life of courage and service. His father served in World War I, and Alan followed in...

Read more
international womens day

Message from our CEO celebrating International Women’s Day

Good morning everyone, Today, on International Women's Day, we take the opportunity to celebrate the contribution made by the incredible women of RSL LifeCare and...

Read more

State-of-the-art Nowra Veteran Wellbeing Centre now open to veterans and their families

RSL LifeCare has officially opened its purpose built, state-of-the-art facility to permanently house the Nowra Veteran Wellbeing Centre, providing an expanded range of health and...

Read more

RSL LifeCare’s Response to Federal Budget

RSL LifeCare has welcomed the Australian Government’s commitment in additional support and funding across Aged Care and Veterans’ Services as part of the October 2022...

Read more

RSL LifeCare welcomes new CEO

Media Release 21 September 2022 RSL LifeCare has welcomed a new CEO this week, with the appointment of experienced and entrepreneurial business leader, Janet Muir. ...

Read more

Fee-free certified training for veterans or their partners across NSW with JobTrainer

In collaboration with Training Services NSW through their JobTrainer program, RSL LifeCare Veteran Services is providing access to four certification programs across hospitality, business, leadership...

Read more

Access to fee-free certified training with the JobTrainer pilot program

In collaboration with Training Services NSW through their JobTrainer program, RSL LifeCare Veteran Services are piloting access to three certification programs across business, leadership and...

Read more

Lakes of Cherrybrook

As a part-owner of ‘Lakes of Cherrybrook,’ RSL LifeCare is aware of some building and maintenance issues raised by a small number of Strata owners...

Read more
Wal Williams OAM, ANZAC Commemorative Service, 21st April 2022.

Vale Walter Williams OAM

RSL LifeCare staff and residents alike have been deeply saddened to learn of the passing of long - time ANZAC Village resident and respected RSL...

Read more

Giving our nurses a voice to lead

Today, on International Nurses Day (IND) we shine a light on our nursing staff and their vital work. Our nurses are a core part of RSL...

Read more

Hugh Cunningham Gardens welcomes Australian Defence Force support

RSL LifeCare has welcomed the support of Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel at Hugh Cunningham Gardens residential aged care home at Tura Beach.  The 15-person...

Read more

Construction Begins on Permanent Nowra Veteran Wellbeing Centre

Construction has begun on a new purpose built, state-of-the-art facility to permanently house the Nowra Veteran Wellbeing Centre, providing an expanded range of health and...

Read more

Download a brochure

We'll never share your email address and you can opt out at any time, we promise

Career Application Single

  • Accepted file types: docx, doc, pdf, Max. file size: 50 MB.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Contact Veteran Services

Are you ready to explore a new operations role with extra benefits?

Take your career in a new direction RSL LifeCare.

Search for an operations role at an RSL LifeCare Residential Aged Care facility in the Southern NSW region. Take a look at all our current positions here.

1. 100% funding on participating certifications

Undertake a participating certification through the RSL LifeCare Earn and Learn Incentive Program1 and you could be eligible to have your learning fully funded.

2. Cash bonus of up to $1000 (less income tax).

Through the RSL LifeCare Sign-on Bonus, you could be eligible for two split payments of $500 (less income tax), when you start a new role with us.

Contact Homes for Heroes today