A local not-for-profit organisation is currently seeking help of the four legged variety.
Delta Therapy Dogs is a group dedicated to providing a unique kind of support: the canine kind. Many recent studies have found interaction with animals, especially dogs can have amazing impact on the elderly in aged care, people living with dementia and other disabilities, with young people especially benefitting from the engagement.
It can be as simple as a pat and a hug.
Sue Jennings of the group has been taking her dog, a beautiful border collie named Tash to the Emmerton Park aged care centre, in the state’s north-west for nearly three years.
“We just go round and spend 10 or 15 minutes with the residents in their rooms and Tash goes up and gets the big pats,” she said.
“I just have a little chat with them and see how they’re going.
“It’s known that if people can pat and stroke dogs, particularly in their last few years, then it’s beneficial to their health.”
In fact, it’s not just the dogs’ handlers who notice a positive change.
Emmerton Park’s leisure and lifestyle co-ordinator Dave Dunkerley said the visits had had a wonderful impact on the residents.
“It’s very relaxing, they mellow, they start chatting, they talk to a dog very often first and then they’ll talk to us,” he said.
He also said of note, was the behaviour of dementia patients.
“Particularly with dementia you can get some undesirable behaviours at times, but the dogs tend to lessen the behaviours,” he said.
Recently the group has faced hard times, with a number of the handlers finding full time work and many of the dogs, getting older and needing to retire. So they have put the call out, for help from human and dog alike.
Northern coordinator, Claire Curtis, recently said the organisation was in desperate need for more volunteers to keep the program going.
“We’ve been visiting in Burnie for a long time, but I have teams from Forth, Ulverstone and Somerset covering these facilities,” she said.
“We desperately need volunteers down in Smithton and Circular Head as well.
“We assess dogs from 18 months to ten years of age and they only have to be a well-behaved, well-mannered dog.”
The organisation currently visited 19 facilities in Tasmania’s north, but wanted to expand their services.
“I know there’s respite centres, brain injury units, there are a lot of places that could still benefit from having a dog coming in every week,” she said.
“But at the moment, until we got more volunteers we can’t do that.”
For more details please visit: www.deltadogsafetas.org.au
Or call: 6248 7661