The immeasurable benefits of pets in aged care

Mr Wendell is no ordinary six-year-old Havanese dog. He holds the important title of Community Engagement Coordinator at Broughton Hall, a residential aged care facility in Camberwell, Victoria.

The positive impact of the human-animal bond is supported by scientific data, case studies and research that validate the therapeutic effects of human-animal relationships. These benefits can be emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual.

Broughton Hall’s Lifestyle Coordinator knew having a dog would have enormous benefits for the residents, allowing them to recount many fond memories of their own beloved pets.

Each Sunday evening, they would watch the Lort Smith Dog of the Week television segment and it prompted them to visit the Lort Smith website.

That’s when they saw Mr Wendell’s profile. He was a small-sized dog, great with people and cats, and he had a calm, warm nature. He was five years’ old and well past the puppy stage of jumping all over people.

They just had to meet him!

Mr Wendell received lots of interest from potential adopters but the staff at Broughton Hall were successful and consider themselves the “lucky ones”.

Mr Wendell settled in well and is thriving. He is a huge hit with all of the residents. At each shift handover, he is considered just like a resident. He even has his own care plan.

When a new resident comes in, Mr Wendell goes up to them as if to say ‘I will comfort you’ and the calming effect is immediately visible. He goes on outings with the residents; walking, in the bus, and to the local coffee shop.

Acting as their therapy dog, his company is enjoyed by everyone. This is especially evident for residents with dementia. Their faces light up when they see Mr Wendell. It is amazing for family members and staff to witness such positive outcomes.

At Lort Smith, we believe and promote the benefits of the human-animal bond, which go beyond companionship. This bond refers to the strong positive interaction that exists between humans and animals – that special cohesive bond that actually enhances our quality of life.

Each day, Mr Wendell shadows the Lifestyle Coordinator on her rounds. This allows all of the residents to benefit from his company and, in return, he is showered with love and affection.

One nurse now brings her boxer to work and the physiotherapist has started bringing in her new puppy, further enhancing the wellbeing of staff and residents. Mr Wendell isn’t too fussed by the extra canine company. He much prefers the camaraderie of his people – his family –  without whom he couldn’t imagine life.

“Thank you so much for enabling us to adopt Mr Wendell. He brings joy to all of us. He is so special and so smart he gives me goosebumps. Mr Wendell is ‘pawfect’ and has definitely found his forever home.” – Lifestyle Coordinator, Broughton Hall.

Picture: Stuart Milligan