What is pet therapy and why is it beneficial to residents using aged care services?
Pet therapy is a term that we are seeing more and more in aged care. Pet therapy, or more broadly, animal-assisted therapy is a form of therapy that encourages residents to engage with animals through petting, walking or caring for an animal. Having regular visiting animals to the care home or animals that live permanently in the care home can alleviate the feeling of loss that many residents have to go through with their own pets.
Throughout CraigCare we have a range of live-in pets in our homes, including dogs, birds, chickens, rabbits and fish. Across all of our homes we also regularly welcome visiting farm animals, where residents have the opportunity to interact with a range of animals, from getting in a paddock with goats or lambs, to holding and caring for rabbits. At CraigCare Mornington, for example, residents enjoy the bus trip to spend time at the Living Legends farm, a place where our residents interact with some of the magnificent horses on show. For residents accustomed to living with pets at home or a rural lifestyle, this offers continuity of lifestyle and connection to animals.
What are the benefits of pet therapy?
Interactions with animals have a number of benefits for those in aged care and for individuals who are suffering from dementia¹:
- Helps to improve motor skills and joint movement
- Improves self-esteem by instilling a sense of purpose
- For dementia patients, animals can be soothing for those who have some difficulty communicating
- Helps to decrease the feeling of isolation and loneliness
- Helps to decrease anxiety and depression
- Helps to increase social interaction with other residents
- Develops an increased willingness to take part in activities
CraigCare pet therapy sessions are available to any resident who wishes to take part.
We also love to see your family pets join you when you are visiting your loved one. If you would like to know more about CraigCare’s pet therapy approach or you would like to become involved as a volunteer please get in touch with us as we would love to hear from you.