They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but an Australian first pilot program bringing together rescued greyhounds and aged care residents hopes to prove them wrong.
The Hounds Helping Humans pilot is set to be introduced into HammondCare residential aged care homes in coming months.
The pilot will build on previous animal engagement programs with seniors that have been found to greatly improve their quality of life by decreasing loneliness and depression, increasing physical activity and improving socialisation.
It will also include residents living with dementia.
HammondCare Chief Executive Mike Baird said meaningful involvement with everyday life was crucial to everyone’s wellbeing.
“What a wonderful outcome if rescued greyhounds can be given a new purpose providing happiness for the those who are older in the community,” he said.
Greyhound Rescue President Nat Panzarino said greyhounds were good candidates to assist with wellbeing in aged care services.
They are generally calm in nature as well as being tall enough for people in wheelchairs or confined to beds to interact with them.
“At Greyhound Rescue we know all too well the magic that these incredible hounds can bring to people’s lives,” Ms Panzarino said.
“What better way to share this magic with more people than bringing greyhounds to where they are really needed – to brighten the lives of people are craving connection and companionship.”
A 2013 Australian study found aged care residents with dementia and low mood demonstrated significantly improved depression scores after receiving dog-assisted support relative to human-only intervention.