Pets visit retirement care homes
Cheeky birds, devoted dogs and even a tiny horse brighten the lives of residents in Fraser Coast retirement homes each week. The team of furry and feathered friends and their human carers visit a nursing home or retirement centre each week.
Pet and Engagement Therapies (PET) is a group of volunteers that delivers community engagement to those in residential care. The volunteers, including children and pets, meet each week at a chosen nursing home and visit for an hour or two. There’s no set time limit, so they stay while everyone is enjoying the interaction.
Every moment can bring happiness and a smile to a resident’s face. Their flexible approach is modelled around the diverse features and characteristics that each volunteer brings. The team encourages the participation of young people in activities as the residents in the nursing homes love to see children play and to even join in playing a board game with them. It can also strongly benefit the children as they connect with other generations and bond.
The group is supported by the Hervey Bay Animal Refuge and is run by volunteers. The group used to just be pet therapy but now incorporates more than just animals.
The team is always looking for eager volunteers to join with their children and animals. To bring along your pet you require the animal’s injections certificate to ensure all animals are up-to-date. All animals are welcome whether they are furry or feathered. The residents have been visited by dogs, cats, mini horses, chickens, ducklings and birds. If you are interested in your child being a part of the team, please remember that parental supervision is needed at all times.
On a typical visit, the team assembles in the foyer where members meet and sign in. They are then escorted to the common room where the residents are eagerly waiting. Owners of pets walk around the room with their animals greeting each resident and chatting about their pets. Young children may choose to play a board game such as snakes and ladders while the residents watch on enthusiastically or may even choose to join in. Others from the team play the piano provided by the facility and have a sing-along with the residents. Some of the team or children bring along other instruments and play while some residents join in or tap their feet and clap along. The residents find joy in the shared experiences.
The visits don’t just benefit the residents but can also help volunteers. The group approach is supportive and encouraging, which means quieter volunteers can participate at their own pace by clapping along to music and progressively become more involved with each visit.
Even with residents who have a difficult time communicating, a smile or even eyes widening with recognition is evidence of the difference they are making to the lives of others.