The program, now being piloted, is based around regular visits from Greyhound Rescue teams of a Hound + Handler. Initially the main focus will be on HammondCare clients living with dementia.
“At Greyhound Rescue we know all too well the magic that these incredible greyhounds can bring to people’s lives,” Greyhound Rescue president Natalie 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 who are craving connection and companionship.
“Greyhounds are great candidates to assist with wellbeing in aged care services. They are generally calm and docile in nature as well as being tall enough to be accessible to people who are in wheelchairs or confined to beds.”
HammondCare chief executive Mike Baird said life engagement is a key component of HammondCare’s relationship-based model of care.
“Meaningful involvement with everyday life is crucial to everyone’s wellbeing,” 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.”
HammondCare and Greyhound Rescue have been working for months to develop the Hounds Helping Humans program. “COVID lockdowns kept frustrating our plans and shifting our start date, but the enthusiasm never waned,” Panzarino said.
“When we announced the program to our volunteers there was an amazing heartfelt response. So many of our people are keen to be part of this initiative and contribute to such an important part of society.”
The development of the Hounds Helping Humans program was funded by a grant from Australian Ethical. Hound + human teams have been carefully selected for the program.
Each team has undergone purpose-designed training to prepare them for the sounds, sights, activities, and equipment (such as wheelchairs and trolleys) they will encounter in an aged care environment. The training also encompasses communication techniques to facilitate meaningful connection between the hounds and HammondCare clients.
The Hounds Helping Humans program is starting at selected HammondCare residential aged care homes. Ongoing evaluation of the program will measure the positive ways the program enriches the lives of humans and hounds alike.