News & Events

Pet therapy program extended

August 18, 2017

OCAV has expanded its occasional pet therapy program thanks to funding from the Mazda Foundation. The program will go fortnightly and will benefit the 60 people living with dementia at Liscombe House, OCAV’s aged care facility.

Mandy Williamson, who runs the activities program for OCAV, said the funding would make a world of difference, providing comfort, reducing feelings of isolation and offering stimulation for residents living with dementia.

“We know that many elderly people don’t leave Leith Park because they are physically unable to make the trip into town and cannot afford the costs of a specialist taxi service.  There are also a significant number who are too frightened to go out alone or are simply unable to because the extent of their dementia means they need round the clock care and supervision,” she added.

The extended program will include visits from Delta Dogs, a Mobile Animal Farm, an egg-hatching program, baby animals, rabbits, bush babies and reptiles. Work is now underway with residents to learn more about what activities and animals they would like included in the program so that staff and volunteers can tailor the program effectively.

Pet therapy is a well-evidenced therapeutic technique involving contact with, and care for, animals. A typical session involves spending time getting to know an animal –petting it, feeding it and looking after it.

There are many proven benefits of pet therapy for people with dementia, including stimulating memory and promoting retrieval through reminiscence of former times involving animals and pets, and promoting relaxation which can reduce challenging symptoms of dementia.

OCAV intends to measure the impact of the program on residents by undertaking an observational survey that analyses the way residents react during therapy sessions and measures whether their behaviours have changed as a result of their involvement.

Caption: Sue Wilde gets to know one of the visiting chicks.

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