Greyhound Rescue and HammondCare have partnered to help bring joy and companionship to those living in residential aged-care homes.

The program, which is currently in its pilot phase, will see specially selected greyhounds and their carers visit HammondCare aged-care homes, with an initial focus on those clients living with dementia.

Mike Baird, CEO of HammondCare, 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. What a wonderful outcome if rescued greyhounds can be given a new purpose providing happiness for the those who are older in the community.”

Natalie Panzarino, President of Greyhound Rescue, said at Greyhound Rescue they know the magic that greyhounds can bring to people’s lives.

“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.”

Each greyhound and carer 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.

HammondCare and Greyhound Rescue have been working on the program for months, but Covid lockdowns kept frustrating plans and shifting the start date, although Panzarino said the enthusiasm never waned.

“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.”

Bronwyn Mitchell, who is visiting care homes with her hound Sunny, said Sunny loves to interact with everyone who crosses their threshold and out in the community.

“He makes sure they get their fair share of pats, neck rubs, wet nose nudges and chin rests on their laps. Our clients love it and I’m sure at times they come to see Sunny not us. So, when I heard about the Hounds Helping Humans program I just knew this was the something Sunny was born to do – spreading his unconditional love to all he meets”.

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