Happy tales emerge in ther­apy pro­gram


Joondalup Weekender - - News -

RES­I­DENTS at Mer­cyCare’s Joon­dalup res­i­den­tial aged care fa­cil­ity are en­joy­ing weekly vis­its from spe­cial vol­un­teers.

Eigh­teen-month-old brother-sis­ter pooches Butch and Zelda visit the home as part of a pet ther­apy pro­gram that has been tai­lored to en­hance the health and well­be­ing of the res­i­dents.

Iluka cou­ple Ve­nessa and Chris Turn­bull adopted the bor­doo­dles (bor­der col­lie-poo­dle cross) when they were eight weeks old.

“We call them our cud­dle mon­keys,” Mrs Turn­bull said.

“They just en­joy be­ing with peo­ple and wrap them­selves around you and snug­gle up, so we thought they would be per­fect for Mer­cyCare’s pet ther­apy pro­gram.”

Mrs Turn­bull said in the past three months her pets had made spe­cial con­nec­tions with many res­i­dents.

The in­clude Diana, whose room they make a bee­line for at the start of each visit.

“As soon as we walk in, Zelda starts pulling to go to­wards Diana’s room,” she said.

“When we get there, Butch puts his head on her lap and they all re­ally have such a spe­cial con­nec­tion.”

She said a lot of res­i­dents were re­spond­ing well to the dogs.

“You see their eyes light up when the dogs walk into the room; it’s re­ally lovely to be able to give such joy,” she said.

Mer­cyCare vol­un­teer co-or­di­na­tor Anne Ward said Butch and Zelda’s vis­its were “good for the soul”.

“Re­search shows that pet ther­apy of­fers sig­nif­i­cant health ben­e­fits by en­cour­ag­ing so­cial­i­sa­tion, par­tic­u­larly for res­i­dents liv­ing with de­men­tia,” she said.

“The vis­its also of­fer sen­sory en­gage­ment for our res­i­dents who are hear­ing and vi­sion im­paired; they can en­gage with the an­i­mals through touch, pat and play.” Mer­cyCare Joon­dalup res­i­dent Diana Roy­aards with Butch and Zelda.

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