IT IS often said that laughter is the best medicine and one local nursing home has employed happiness to help keep residents alive longer.
Staff at Scalabrini Village received a lesson in laughter last week from comedy guru Jean-Paul Bell, who co-founded the Humour Foundation in 1996, and more recently the Arts Health Institute (AHI).
The AHI's Play Up program has been employed in 70 aged care facilities across the state to help improve quality of life for residents and staff.
Mr Bell said the program was based on the Australian government's Smile Study, which found humour played a major role in improving the lives of dementia patients.
"Humour is one of the last things to go before we die it's the glue that keeps us above a level of depression and melancholy that we all experience," Mr Bell said.
"Humour creates a high and was proven to reduce agitation in high-care patients by 20 per cent, which is the same effect as anti-psychotic drugs."
The Play Up program will provide live entertainment and general good humour for Scalabrini residents once a week, specifically focusing on 10 residents who need it most.
"Elderly people love being asked advice or being in charge and in aged care, they lose a lot of that status," Mr Bell said.
"They're used to controlling things and in institutional care they can feel useless this helps improve their self esteem."
Mr Bell said the program would also improve the workplace atmosphere by helping staff build a better connection with clients.
"Play is something we need right through our lives," he said.
"And this age group has the time on their hands to have fun."
Denise McGann from Scalabrini Village said different activities such as the Play Up routine were important to offer different options to residents.
"We're just excited; the more we can do for residents, the better," Mrs McGann said.
"Life is meant to be lived these are their twilight years, they should enjoy them."