Pet therapy Programs have been shown to boost health and general well-being in the elderly – not to mention how it can improve an elderly persons social, emotional or cognitive functioning.
The Pet Therapy Program was introduced at Clarendon Grange over 12 months ago, when guinea pig Piglet was adopted from our Amaroo Residence. Within months another guinea pig named Humphrey was added as well as Whisper the Rabbit and Lovebirds Cornbee and Goldie. Most recently Nicole the Lifestyle Co-coordinator has been bringing in Yoda her 18 month old Jack Russell Chihuahua 2 days a week. The residents’ have been getting to know Yoda and once the trial is completed at the end of this year, Yoda’s visits may be increased as he has been a big hit with residents.
The Pet Program is not a structured program. The lifestyle staff pop Piglet, Humphrey or Whisper in a washing basket and take him around to visit the residents in their rooms throughout the day. Some of the residents feed the animals, groom them and help to clean their cages. It gives them a sense of purpose and responsibility.
The program has had enormous benefits such as changing behaviors, providing emotional support and forging friendships. Residents are more relaxed and calm, and this in turn often means they share more information that helps alleviate symptoms of depression and combats loneliness.
It would not be an understatement to say the pet program has reduced stress, as well as renewed enthusiasm and interest in everyday life for the residents. As our photos show, we think our residents’ smiles speak for themselves.
Whilst our Lifestyle staff have their hands full with our four furry friends and two lovebirds we are open to the opportunities and possibilities the pet program may open in the future.
If you would like to organise a tour of one of our Aged Care Homes in Victoria, please contact us on (03) 9559 0400.