Greyhound program aims to improve resident wellbeing

Rescued greyhounds will provide support and engagement for aged care residents living with dementia.

In an Australian-first, rescued greyhounds will provide support and engagement for aged care residents, including people living with dementia.

HammondCare has partnered with Greyhound Rescue to develop and trial the Hounds Helping Humans program. The pilot will build on previous animal engagement schemes with seniors that have been found to decrease loneliness and depression, increase physical activity and encourage socialisation.

Senior research fellow at HammondCare Professor Susan Kurrle said she was interested to see whether the residents’ interactions with the greyhounds would improve quality of life. “Dogs can have a wonderful, calming effect for someone with dementia. I have seen how quickly they can calm agitation.”

Indeed, a 2013 Australian study found that aged care residents with dementia and low mood demonstrated significantly improved depression scores after receiving dog-assisted support when compared to human-only intervention.

Greyhound Rescue president Nat Panzarino said the organisation was looking forward to working with HammondCare and that there was potential for a wider program for rescued greyhounds in aged care settings.

“We know all too well the magic that these incredible hounds can bring to people’s lives,” she 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 who are craving connection and companionship.”

Ms Panzarino said greyhounds were ideal candidates to assist with wellbeing in aged care facilities as they are generally calm in nature as well as being tall enough to be accessible to people who are in wheelchairs or confined to beds.

Aged care resident Thelma Connaughton, 83, spent time with one of the greyhounds at the program launch at HammondCare’s Horsley home in Wollongong. “She is just so lovely, so beautiful – absolutely beautiful,” she said.

The Hounds Helping Humans program – funded by a grant from Australian Ethical – will operate within tight processes. Residents and dogs alike will be carefully chosen. To prepare them for an aged care environment, the greyhounds have received specialised training familiarising them to the sights, sounds and smells they’ll encounter on site.

The trial will run at HammondCare’s Horsley, Darlinghurst and Wahroonga homes initially with more HammondCare sites to be included later.

HammondCare chief executive Mike Baird said life engagement is a key component of the provider’s relationship-based model of care. “Meaningful involvement with everyday life is crucial to everyone’s wellbeing,” Mr Baird said. “What a wonderful outcome if rescued greyhounds can be given a new purpose providing happiness for the those who are older in the community.”

Main image: HammondCare residents Thelma and Dolores with greyhound Jory

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Tags: dementia, featured, greyhounds, hammondcare, mike baird,

1 thought on “Greyhound program aims to improve resident wellbeing

  1. Nice to see Mike Baird finally doing something for the greyhounds after his notorious backflip on banning greyhound racing in NSW!

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