Twice a week, residents of St Vincent’s Care Services Villa La Salle at Southport are likely to be found patting a small, black and white dog called Sammi.
This little pooch has become quite a star since moving into an Independent Living Unit with her owners, Bill and Julie Glassell.
Bill and his three-year old Shih Tzu love to visit the residents in the adjacent Residential Aged Care facility – and the feeling is very mutual.
Residents like Rose Runge look forward to their visits immensely.
“Dear little Sammi is so friendly. She trots right over to me and she’s warmer than a blanket on my knees!’
Sister Joan Wynne sees first-hand what a positive affect Sammi’s visits have on all the residents.
“Everyone is so enthusiastic when Sammi comes. Interacting with her really brightens their day and boosts their general wellbeing.
“It shows that no matter how much we need to be cared for, we all enjoy giving care to others,” Sister Joan said.
The health benefits of pet therapy have been widely researched. Scientific studies show that spending time with pets can produce significant physical and emotional responses.
For example, just 15 minutes bonding with an animal is proven to lower the ‘fight or flight’ hormone, cortisole, while at the same time increasing the ‘feel-good’ hormone, serotonin. This results in reduced stress levels and lower blood pressure.
St Vincent’s Care Services embraces the use of pet therapy with Peter Williams, Director of Clinical Services, confirming that pets are a welcomed addition in most facilities.
“Amongst other pet therapy initiatives, we have a range of small pets in many of our residential aged care facilities,” he said.
“We have fish, birds, a cat and chickens in some of the gardens. There are also a number of small dogs just like Sammi in our other Independent Living Units throughout Queensland.
“All these animals give our residents enormous joy. It’s wonderful how the simple act of caring for a pet can produce such a powerful reaction.”
For more information on St Vincent’s Care Services, call 1800 778 767 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.