Surrey Care Home’s Furry Friends – Socks and Slippers – Have a Calming  Effect on Residents Living With Dementia

At Redcot, the residential care home in Haslemere, Surrey, which is run by charity Friends of the Elderly, residents have been celebrating this year’s National Cat Day with Socks and Slippers, the care home’s two loveable, good-natured and friendly cats. 

Brother and Sister – Socks and Slippers – have been Redcot’s ‘paw-fect’ full-time feline family members since August 2021, and from the moment they arrived, they warmed the hearts of staff and residents alike. “We decided to adopt Socks and Slippers after a friend’s cat had a litter of mixed breed kittens,” said Jan Daly, the Registered Manager at Redcot . “It was a Redcot-wide decision to adopt Socks and Slippers and give them a warm, caring, loving and safe home. We chatted with our residents and it was a unanimous, resident-wide verdict – Socks and Slippers became our Redcot Rascals.

“Before they arrived, we showed the residents a photograph of the pair. Socks was christened Socks due to her black body and white paws, and as everyone knows, Slippers always go well with Socks, and so the rest is history – and it really is history,” added Jan. “Apparently it all started 2,000 years ago when The Romans started putting socks in their sandals, which are nearly slippers, to avoid blisters and skin burns.”

As they have got older, Socks and Slippers have ‘found their paws’ and make sure they not only patrol the care home’s beautiful grounds, but also make their daily visits to check in on each resident.

Socks and Slippers have their daily routine and will make sure they see everybody, every day,” said Staci Abernathy, Redcot’s Deputy Manager. “They do the rounds with the care team, going up in the lift, visiting each resident and then coming back down in the lift. They then go to see the residents who are in the Lounge or chatting in one of our cosy areas. They really have a caring ‘cat-itude’.”

Since Socks and Slippers have been at Redcot, Jan and her team have noticed many positive reactions from the residents when they are playing with or fussing the feline pair. “We’ve seen a huge, positive difference in our residents since Socks and Slippers arrived,” continued Jan. “When the residents either play with Socks or Slippers, give either one of them a fuss, let them sit on their knees for a stroke or even give them a small cat treat, it gives our residents a calming and centred focus. This is particularly noticeable in our residents who are living with dementia.”

Even though they are Brother and Sister, Socks and Slippers have different personalities. Socks is the more cautious and timider cat, and Slippers is more adventurous and vocal. Even though they love all the residents, one resident in particular is their favourite. “Susan Osborne, who has been a resident at Redcot since September 2022, is their Best Furr-iend,” continued Staci. “On many occasions we’ve found both Socks and Slippers, curled up asleep with Susan on her bed. Susan has always adored cats which the furry pair must sense. Susan loves to have them sleep with her, and the cats love it too.

“It’s not surprising that Susan, Socks and Slippers enjoy their bedtimes together as there are many positives in allowing a cat to sleep on a bed at night. These include giving the person and the cat or cats a sense of security – both emotionally and physically. Also, having a feline guest in bed with you reduces stress as well as bringing warmth and comfort. As James Herriot once said “Cats are connoisseurs of comfort,” and Socks and Slippers certainly are.”

Jan continued: “Socks and Slippers have different behaviours to show that they really like a person which they demonstrate all the time. They both do the typical cat headbutt, twitch their tails and curl themselves around our residents’ legs; and you’ll always find them asking to have their tummies tickled. They roll over on to their backs and wait patiently for their fussing to begin, purring all the time.

“Socks and Slippers are such happy and caring cats, who bring so much joy and happiness to all our residents – and are a constant source of entertainment. They really are our Redcot furry angels with whiskers.”