How Laura connects with Epping residents through Laughter Care

The Laughter Care program launched in early December at Heritage Epping. We recently caught up with Laura, our Laughter Care Specialist – or ‘Penny’ as she’s known to residents – about how the program is progressing.

Connection through humour, a love of performance

As a Laughter Care Specialist with The Humour Foundation, Laura brings her natural love of performing and genuine warmth and care to a mix of residents in our Laughter Care program. As Penny, she connects with residents through humour, story, song, and play.

It’s a fluid, ongoing process that’s already proving successful – improving residents’ well-being and brightening their day.

Growing up above a drama studio in Brisbane instilled in Laura a love of performance and a desire to be an independent artist. Later, having friends who are performers who specialise in Laughter Therapy, Laura jumped at the chance to work as a Laughter Care Specialist (as they’re now called) in aged care.

Being in the positive moment

An important part of Laura’s role is working with our Lifestyle Co-Ordinator and ‘Laughter Boss’ at Heritage Epping – Susan Musico. As a team, they make positive connections with residents at a time often characterised by sadness and loss.

“It’s about being sensitive to the resident’s world and their mood,” Laura says.

“As Penny, being in a positive moment with a resident helps draw out memories and lift their mood. It also helps provide playful, calmer moments, which in turn fosters true connection and improved well-being.”

Before their Laughter Care session on a Wednesday, Susan briefs Laura on each program resident and their current wellbeing needs. After the session, they de-brief to ensure more is learned about each resident, what’s working, what to adjust and how positive findings can be incorporated into their every day. It’s a formal part of their approach which as mentioned is generally fluid and flexible.

“It’s about being sensitive to the resident’s world and their mood” – Laura (‘Penny’)

Improved well-being

Laura’s skills, performance talent as Penny, and genuine care for residents in the Laughter Care program, is yielding positive results.

Heritage Epping Residence Manager Julio Castillo believes the program is an important part of improving the well-being of all residents, including those with dementia. “Almost all our aged care residents believe a sense of humour is very important,” Julio says. “The Laughter Care program is proven in helping residents connect through humour, stories, and play.”

Research-based, meeting quality standards

The Humour Foundation’s Laughter Care program is backed by international research1 showing that agitation levels of dementia residents decreased through humour therapy to the same extent as using anti-psychotic drugs – but without the side effects. The Humour Foundation’s program2 also addresses several of the requirements of ACQSC Quality Standards, including Standard 1: Consumer Dignity and Choice.

Learn more about Julio Castillo

New Residence Manager Julio Castillo Strengthens Leadership at Heritage Epping Aged Care Home

Learn more about Heritage Epping

Heritage Epping Aged Care lounge room overlooking wetlands


[1] Source: BMJ Open, ‘The Sydney Multisite Intervention of Laughter Bosses and ElderClowns (SMILE) study: cluster randomized trial of humour therapy in nursing homes

[2] Source: The Humour Foundation